If you haven’t already watched it, please stop everything and go and enjoy The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. I absolutely ADORED it. If you haven’t watched it yet you might want to stop reading this now.
Why was I so blown away by this story?? It wasn’t just Scott Frank’s beautiful cinematography or Beth Harmon’s compelling journey to queen of the alpha male dominated chess world. For me a large part of the beauty of The Queen’s Gambit is what it can teach us about how to play our own End Game.
Let me show you how in only three moves:
1. Be Open to Your Allies
From basement to basement the most amazing people keep showing up to support Beth to open up to be all that she can be. From first learning chess with Mr Shaibel in the basement of the orphanage to later practising speed chess with champion Benny in his dingy New York basement apartment numerous allies are pivotal on her journey: they help her to keep uplevelling her game; to keep moving forward; to learn to control her emotions; to clean up her act; and ultimately to help her to prepare for each step forward on her quest. She was always surrounded by allies even though as an orphan she appeared to be the poster child of abandonment and of going it alone.
Now look, she didn’t welcome all this help with open arms. In fact she tried very hard to push her allies away; but they stuck with her (did anyone else want to cry when she called Mr Shaibel a ++++sucker, not even knowing what she was saying?). Her allies and supporters (once over the sting) kept showing up anyway. They forced her to “keep open” and awakened her to the fact it’s “far worse to regret an opportunity you allowed to pass you by”. The people she needed literally kept coming back, knocking at her door or calling her despite herself. They didn’t allow her to let her life pass on by. They brought her endless books on chess even though she told them she already knew it all. They allowed her to empty their wallets. They supported her and helped her to be ready for whatever comes next.
The universe is doing this for each of us too, even when we feel alone. Someone is knocking at our door (literally someone is right now as I type this, I’ll be right back…) or trying to call or contact us. We just have to answer the call. How much quicker might things have improved for Beth if she hadn’t believed she already knew it all, if she had kept her phone on the hook, if she had answered the door sooner.
So: Answer the door. Take the call. Open your mind and your hands to the help that is being constantly offered. (PS I’ll just drop one of my favourite ever quotes here: “Life is an open hand waiting for some other hand to enter it” Elie Wiesel).
2. It’s never about a Magic Pill
Beth REALLY believed she needed those magic green tranquiliser drugs to access her genius.
But it was never about the pills! In her final match she shows up stone cold sober to play Bergov, a man she’s feared the whole way through. And what does she do when she thinks all is lost and with no magic pill in sight? She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and looks up to the sky: and BOOM, a chess board magically floats above her head and shows her the way to win, just as it had always done so before. In that moment she got to realise for herself that her genius super powers didn’t come from any green pill, That her magic was ALWAYS there waiting inside of her without needing anything or anyone else to access it.
What magic green pills are you believing in and holding onto? I used to always present in the same gold dress believing in its power to give me confidence. But it wasn’t the dress that gave me confidence or allowed me to say what I needed to say. I’m sat here now chatting with you in yoga pants and a sweater doing just fine. Do you believe you need a specific special pen in order to write? Can you only meditate at 6am on a Tuesday in the plush red chair in your bedroom, and, if that’s not available to you, well, why bother, it wont work?
It’s never about a magic pill. But like Beth you likely wont believe me until you find it out for yourself. Why not try it now?
3. Listen & Follow YOUR path
I thought one of the most beautiful messages of the show was that while people will show up and help us to be all that we can be, it’s ultimately left for each of us to “play [our] own line… Play what’s best for you”. At the end of the day, Beth had learnt to play HER End Game, not someone else’s. THAT is what led her to fulfil her destiny. No longer hazed out with alcohol, sex and pills her innate wisdom was clear and ready and waiting to show her her way forward.
Your own intuitive wisdom is trying to speak with you too. You might hear it from time to time “but did you ever really listen to it?” Imagine what you might be capable of if you did. Where will your path lead you?
Ultimately, like Beth, we are each here to play our own marvellous game of life. The universe will send us everything we need to be prepared for it; if we open to it. Our intuition will speak to us and guide us; if we listen to it. Everything we need is within us; when we realise it.
So let’s go play?
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