A Glimpse of the Past
If life had a playback button, one would categorize my life as one far different than Josh’s life. Josh, the protagonist from the movie, Searching for Bobby Fischer, and I, Aaron Ng from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, are not similar in the way we approached life at the age of seven, the way we were treated by the people around us at the age of seven, and the way we displayed maturity during the age of seven.
At the tender age of seven, Josh and I were far from similar in the attitude we had when encountering the cards dealt by life. Although many people may think I was a quiet and timid boy growing up, I was the opposite. As a young lad, I had a habit of being a bad friend. Friends would want to watch TV, but if it didn’t have my blessing, we would all be going outside to play soccer again for the hundredth time. I was the type who wanted everything done my way and my way only. When my magical powers seemed to be fading and friends started to disobey me, I would pull out my magical book of “How to Be a Bad Friend 101” and cast a spell that would spark my powers back to life. Usually I would choose a spell that involves chanting, or to some, it is better known as complaining, a tactic that was usually quite effective. Drowning my friends in boring complaints usually got them to do whatever I wanted. However, for Josh, this was not the case. Not only was he strangely attracted to the perplex game of chess, but he was also a really loyal friend and son. It was as if he was a totally different specimen; he did everything his parents asked him to do, whether he himself liked it or not. He was thrown into the competitive world of chess by his father, but never complained, even when he was forced to stop doing the things he enjoyed to do. A complaining and selfish spirit was characteristics that I possessed that were understandably different from Josh’s dream-like personality.
Josh, unlike me, was treated as an individual who was capable enough to choose what to pursue in his own life. Some assume that everyone has their own personal interests and hobbies that would one day play a major role in determining what we do with our lives. However, this theory is not applicable in many Chinese lives, such as my own. I watched in envy as Josh’s parents smothered him in love by supporting his unrealistic passion for chess. As soon as it was revealed that Josh had the ability to play chess like no other, his dad immediately got him a chess teacher. I too, had tutors and teachers that were placed in my life by my loving parents. In contrast to Josh’s tutor though, these were tutors that were instructed to teach me things that conflicted with my personal interests. An example of this would be when I had to take violin lessons. I still remember the times I would drag my violin case up the staircase, making sure that each nasty thump of the violin hitting the staircase was audible to supplement my disapproval. It would be untrue to say that I am ungrateful, but my parents never really supported the passions that I wanted to pursue. Ideas that were deemed “unrealistic pursuits”, such as soccer, weren’t accepted into my parents’ to-do-list.
Everybody shows signs of maturity at some stage of their life, but not necessarily in the same way. It is widely said that maturity comes with age, but in Josh’s case, this quote might as well have been said by a drunkard. There were many times in the movie where Josh exhibited a level of maturity far greater than a typical seven year-old. He displayed an ability to understand other people’s feelings by suggesting that Vinnie could stay in his room, instead of the park. Rather than caring for others at that age, I was probably fussing about when the next ultra-man episode was going to come out. Another example where Josh displayed maturity was when he lost at one of the chess tournaments. He then pondered on the idea that maybe it was okay to lose, that not everybody had to be the best and always win. This reveals how he had already concluded that life isn’t all about winning and that success is just a subjective idea. However, I wouldn’t say that I was unbelievably immature when I was young. I always thought that I was being a “big boy” by performing certain actions. I thought that being a grown up meant that I had to prove to my parents that I was brave enough to walk in the dark alone, sensible enough to sit in the passenger seat of the car, and strong enough to walk the dog. The way I defined maturity at a young age was just different than Josh’s tendency to live life through a matured lifestyle.
Josh’s and my life can be put on opposite sides of the same spectrum. He lived his life with an attitude of respect for others, while I lived a naïve life thinking that I was on top of the world. I was also envious of the people in Josh’s life because of their supportive jesters towards his personal interests and passions, unlike my parents. To my surprise, Josh was able to develop a level of maturity far earlier than I was able to at the age of seven. Therefore, the lives of Josh and I are differentiated through the way we lived our life as a kid, the way we were nurtured by those around us, and the levels of maturity that we displayed at the young age of seven.