The First Game With Dad

I was never a competitive person. Not by nature and subsequently not by nurture. The lack of sibling might be a clue. I still am not competitive, which is kind of a problem when it's mixed up with mimetic desires.

Which makes it interesting when I was five, dad introduced me the concept of competition in the form of checkers.

He sat me down on the floor, laid the pieces carefully on the board. He showed me how the pieces move, which was simple enough that even I can get it.

But the idea was so foreign that I wonder why bother moving at all. I was almost marvelling that the beauty of having pieces land where they were.

Next he showed me how to take out the opponent's pieces. So that's why.

"But why do we wanna do that?" the sound in my head. But there's no time to answer that. We took turn taking out each other's pieces.

I did that at the first opportunity I get. Internally I felt something was amiss, but didn't know what to do about it except just rolling with the flow. Many years later I learned the missing thing I didn't do was called strategizing.

Half way through the first game dad had his piece at the my end of the board, and he laid another piece on top. I wondered why, he told me now his piece get to move however far he wants.

He powered up! I was shocked. He coulda told me that such thing is possible but he didn't (even though I wouldn't have understood).

I tried to do the same but was too late. Every move I made was a result of mimicry, everything I thought of doing was two steps behind.

It didn't take long for dad to take every piece of mine from the board. At that point a new concept was declared: I lost, I was officially a loser.

I tried to process what that means. I lost all my pieces, and the dad was the victor. That makes me the loser, but what does losing mean? I couldn't tell, but it means I'm not the winner.

This was hard to digest. I trying to hold it in but I couldn't, I ended up bursting in tears.

Mom had to comfort me. I was embarassed, not for losing but crying over losing.

In trading there is the idea that you have to learn to be a good loser first, winning will take care of itself.

Dad wasn't successful by conventional material measure. He had limited opportunities in his youth, he got hit big time in each macro financial crisis, and he's got his inner demons to deal with all the way.

But dad wasn't a sore loser. He wasn't bitter, he didn't blame anyone. He never compared me to other kids.

Maybe he silently knew this: competition is for losers. In the category of one, you are your only competitor.