Saturday, January 7, 2012

While Caight In a Bear Trap

I’d imagine playing chess while being caught in a bear-trap would be extremely difficult, especially if your opponent is one of those chess-playing supercomputers. I can not tell you through experience, but I can certainly suppose. I don’t think it matters if the match occurs while plummeting to Earth in a free-fall, engulfed in flames, or even in some kind of fantasy world of chocolate feathers and whistling fairies, the prospect is terrifying.

Consider, if you will, the challenge of a straight-up game of chess against a master player. Another versus a world champion would be an even mightier contest. A mortal matching intellect in a one-on-one, move-for-more competition with a rogue cyborg programmed to annihilate your primitive strategy in three moves? Couple the latter with the further complication of being caught in a bear trap. I believe the shear difficulty and complexity of this dilemma can really put some of life’s lesser predicaments into perspective.

Many people complain about many things, and often times those things are certainly justified: loss of a job, departure of a loved one, an ugly break-up, etc. But consider any of these scenarios in contrast to playing chess against a supercomputer while being caught in a bear trap. My grandfather was one of my best friends when I was young. We lived in the same household for six of my nurturing years where’d he’d explain the worldliness of headlines in the newspaper, how to spot a four-leaf clover in a yard of thick grass, and best of all, impart the measured technique of snaring a slippery night crawler before a 5am fishing trip to the Susquehanna River.

When I was twelve, my grandfather fell ill and passed. I knew he would die months, even a couple years, before he actually did, but still could not anticipate the despair when my father sat me down one day after baseball practice. The news was jarring, but had I only considered how intellectually, physically—and assuming defeat—how emotionally draining a chess match against a supercomputer while being caught in bear trap would be, I think I would held up against my grandfather’s death with unfailing poise and dignity. I still would have wept, but the taste of those tears would have hinted at a more tragic scenario thankfully not endured.

Think back to your first relationship: her scribbled phone number on a ripped off corner of a K-Mart sales flier stuffed in your back pocket, the discomfort of not excusing yourself to urinate because you didn’t want to leave her alone in the movie theater on the first date, the first kiss while stopped at a red light late one August night, and finally the phone call when she says “Don’t bother ever coming over again because I have to crimp my hair.” Hurtful? Sure. Crippling? You bet. Scarring? I just lie and say I had a tattoo removed. Armed with the perspective I now possess, I would gladly endure 20 phone calls of such magnitude every other Tuesday if the alternative would be battling a chess playing supercomputer in an epic mind-struggle while my left leg was shredded by the teeth of a bear trap.

I understand that the probability of a chess-supercomputer-bear trap scenario is highly unlikely, but the notion is petrifying. But as a point of reference, the notion can make one all the more wise. Heed the moment and find a glimmer in every shit parade, because if you ever find yourself across a checkered board from chess playing supercomputer while being caught in a bear trap, it’s already checkmate.

No comments: