I’ve worked hard at clearing away distractions, now I have to think about how best to use the time I’ve freed up.
It’s kind of scary, actually, having this time. It’s easier to claim “I don’t have time!” instead of actually doing my work. But now that I do have space available to learn baduk, shouldn’t I be doing it? If so, how? These are the questions I have been contemplating.
While I told myself I’d play at least one game per day, the reality is that I often don’t, and I want to change this. It’s been stop and start. Some days I actually cannot play a game, but this is not every day. Becoming stronger at baduk requires me to work hard each day. If I don’t put in the effort how can I expect to advance?
At bottom it’s not a question of knowing the right thing to do, but doing the right thing.
I have made some progress. My daily practice is now more consistent:
- Listen to one lecture on Guo Juan’s Internet Go School (IGS) and do the accompanying problem set.
- Review available problems in IGS’ Training System.
- Play one game each evening (working on this!)
- If I can’t play a game then get some studying in while at lunch or commuting.
The more I consider the use of my time and resources the more I recognize the need for silence.
I love to read, especially nonfiction, but this often leads to distraction; and working through the books I’ve accumulated sometimes feels like an obligation. Paring down this stack affords a measure of peace. I’m also less drawn to Netflix and Hulu. All media requires my time and attention, and recognizing this has been less a revelation than an unfolding realization.
The whole silence piece gets back to where I started this post off: having free time.
It seems like it should be easy to use our time well, but a little experience shows that this is not so. There is a war for our time and attention: The battle resumes each morning and is followed (maybe) by an evening truce. This contrary force is both internal and external. Christians regard this as the experience of Sin. “I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind…” writes St Paul in his letter to the Romans. Steven Pressfield calls the enemy Resistance.
However it is termed – and this terminology matters – the experience seems universal. It is proof that we are not yet as good as we could be or ought to be. Practice is meant to help us improve, to overcome inability and ignorance. There is proof of its success all around us in professional players, saints, and athletes – those persons who live their vocations heroically. We look up to these people, and rightly so: their achievements speak for themselves.
I never expect to become a professional baduk player, but I can improve my abilities by practicing each day. Even if I don’t achieve high rank or public recognition, the effort invested in developing this skill is worth it. Above I described my routine in hopes that it might encourage other players. I have also attempted to discuss some of the musings that surround this regime to provide some context because I think these touch upon the human realities of training.
Our willingness to do the right thing can be halting. To sustain our effort is noble and right but it can be easily frustrated. It’s easy to fall into the trap of ranking our value with the skill we are trying to cultivate, but to accept this is to accept a lie. We know also that our lives outside of the game affect how well we play. This is why it is important to use our time well.
Balancing action with repose is a necessary ability, one that is essential for effective practice. I am getting better at training as an activity, but I also need silence. As strange as it may sound, this is something I am resolved to work on, to incorporate into my life. Enjoy the silence.