What I learned about myself watching a MasterClass on Chess

Yesterday I was feeling like the walls were closing in on me. Anyone else feeling that way these days?

It was a dreary day at my house, threatening rain all day and chilly (at least chilly compared to what it had been earlier in the week – in Texas, you never really know what the weather will be – Yesterday the high was in the low 60’s, today it is going to be 88).

Tired of reading, Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime/Cable TV, and the puzzle that had been sitting on my table for a week (or more), it felt like the walls were closing in.

From past experiences, when that feeling comes over me, I know I need to do something productive.

I put on my walking shoes, grabbed the dog’s leash and we headed to the mailboxes to get out of the house. My mailbox is a community mailbox area, so a walk to the mailbox can be as short as half a mile roundtrip or I can find another way home and make it as long as I want.

Before I headed out the door on my walk, I did what most people would do, I reached out to Social Media and asked what others are doing to keep their sanity. While on my walk, my friends did not disappoint with coming up with ideas. Here are just a few of their suggestions:

  • Learn to play a musical instrument
  • Learn to crochet
  • Color
  • Take a walk
  • Organize family photos
  • Learn to cook a new dish
  • Listen to audiobooks
  • Take a drive through the country
  • Play online games such as Words with Friends
  • Watch Ted Talks (here is one of my favorites)
  • Paint the house
  • Video or audio record family stories for kids/grandkids to enjoy later
  • Learn Morse Code (.-.. — .-.. you can go here to decipher this code)
  • Take a MasterClass

Since I already have a MasterClass subscription, I turned to the online learning website and decided to try something new. I found Garry Kasparov’s class on Chess.

I’ve never really been a chess player, so to speak. I know the names of the pieces and how they can each move (at least I used to, it has been a while since I played). Learning something new would be a good use of this time.

I was expecting to learn from one of the greatest chess players, about chess. But I learned so much more.

Sitting on my back porch, thinking about life and this “new normal” people keep talking about (but that is an entirely different blog post) I listened to Garry speak about the fundamentals of chess.

When it registered what Garry said in the first sentence of the second video I had to go back and replay it several times to let it sink in.

“I like an old chess saying. Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do. While strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.”

GArry kasparov

Let that sink in for a minute. Read it again if you need to. It made me pause and think about how true this rings in life as well.

I have developed a lot of tactics over the past several years for dealing with life. Like going for a walk when the walls are closing in or taking an online class to learn something new.

These are tactics. Tactics that get me through the next hour or two. And that I can pull out again when I need them.

As I continued to listen and ponder “what is my strategy? Do I even have a strategy?” he slipped another nugget out.

“Unless you know who you are, it is difficult to know the best strategy.”

garry kasparov

While he was talking about chess, I could not help but think about the life application. In order to have a strategy in the game of life, you must first know who you are, or perhaps you must know who you want to become.

Currently, I am working on discovering who I am. It is like meeting a new friend and finding out who they are.

My life has changed in many ways over the past several years. Who I was is no longer who I am. And yet, I now have the chance to become who I was always meant to be. Kim.

This is my new strategy in life. Maybe I will even discover some new tactics along the way.

Chess anyone?


  1. Love your perspective!

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