I just saw a friend's photos posted on facebook containing carved pumpkins and such... Carved pumpkin faces with lights inside... They're so great! Pumpkin is one of Halloween's festive food ingredients, and for me it's pretty much the only time of year I eat such things, like Pumpkin pie. I think those lit pumpkin faces are the essence of Halloween, they're scarier than most actual costumes. No, not scary. I always felt very happy around Pumpkin faces when I was younger because they give out a unique feel.
Fall is my favourite month, also my month of birth. Halloween is by far my favourite holiday. You don't usually get presents on Halloween, and like most holidays, it becomes progressively less fun and magical as you get older. However, this is the time of year when you get to dress up as anything you want! The feeling of Halloween is a Harry Potter-like magic. The coolest holiday and right in the middle of my favourite month, Fall. Why do I love Fall, you might ask. I mean, It's getting cold, plants are dying off and the streets are getting covered in leaves. School starts up for kids and teens and people buy a lot of clothes and supplies around this time. Well, actually those are pretty much the reasons I like it!
It's getting cold, but it's still not winter. Rather, it's a refreshing cool! Temperature wise, Fall or Spring are my favourite months, but probably Fall because I prefer too cold over too hot. Leaves of every hue shower and blanket the streets, all of the trees are changing colour and shedding. This is the best! This is why I think Fall is the most beautiful season. My sense of beauty is a little unique, I suppose. I also don't know too many people who's favourite month is not Spring, or more commonly, Summer.
The whole back to school thing has a nice feeling too. I may not have thought so very strongly back then, but as a child and as a teen, going back to school was exciting. My second favourite season would have to be Spring. The temperature is nice, the world is coming back to life and I find that the air has a certain smell to it. Well, I think each of the seasons has its own sort of scent and feel. Every Spring makes me feel nostalgic - The anniversary of becoming a Go player, vivid Spring memories from 2006.
Around this time of year is also when I feel them most inspiration to improve myself. Actually, to be honest, this might only be how I'm feeling right now, my memory is not completely clear on that, but at least that's how I'm feeling right now. Not only am I putting the big tasks of learning Korean and Japanese on my self simultaneously, I'm also trying to learn about creative writing and experimenting by writing my own novel chapters. I can't help but think about Go as well, so I'm probably improving little by little there as well. I must admit that 5 Dan has been by far the hardest wall to surpass. That is, getting to 6 Dan - so hard. I'm glad I hit the wall here though, I feel pretty good about my level, now that I think about it, so for the meantime, I can play Go happily and not worry about trying to become a pro or anything like that anymore. Although I haven't permanently and absolutely given up on that, I'm glad I chased such a dream because I wouldn't have been where I am now without this kind of motivation. Always aim higher than your realistic goal! The way I studied Go and the way i thought while I was playing was always under the mindset that I WAS IN FACT going to be a professional, or that I WAS ALREADY a professional. I think that kind of mindset was really effective. It is the mindset of studying like your life is on the line, never accepting anything in your game that is just "okay" or "perhaps playable", never accepting your own preferred moves if they're apparently not "the best", and never submitting even 0.5 Moku to the opponent if it's 0.5 Moku more than they should get out of the position. This kind of mindset requires the strong believe that one definitely has the potential to become pro, a deep confidence in one's own style, talent, seriousness, and ability to find the next key to improvement. I believe the other reason why I improved at a nice pace for the first 3 years was that Go was constantly on my mind, not hidden so far in the back. Therefor, in essence, I think most of improving at Go is a combination of seriousness/work ethic, and raw passion. Other factors such as environment, resources and natural talent have a big role, but are sometimes out of your control.
I meant to focus this post on Halloween, but I guess my passion for Go doesn't allow that ^^
Many people have complimented me on my Go progress and sometimes asked me what my methods of improvement were...
There are lots of people who improved faster than me, maybe even in Canada they are several, who knows. It is true though that I was never dissatisfied with my improvement, at least not until now T_T Besides what I've already mentioned, they isn't much else I can say. Some sort of proverbs I've derived from my own experiences are as follows:
- Study what you don't like to study. That which seems like a chore is probably your weak point. That which seems like fun is probably your strong point.
- Build up your work ethic progressively. Studying is important for a Go player, and as Go is an incredibly difficult subject, a Go player trying to be pro, for example, should have equal or greater work ethic for studying than most university students. Without tha,t you may become really strong, but there will be a limit, and your pace will be hindered.
- Believe strongly in the most general advice. For example, life and death problems/Tsumego. There's a good reason why everyone tells everyone else to solve them often.
- Never give up!
I can at least outline how things were for me in terms of Passion, Diligence, Talent, Environment and Resources.
Passion - I don't think anyone could have more passion for Go than me. I'm sure that sounds arrogant, and there are probably plenty of people who have the same level of passion. 10/10
Diligence - My study habits increased progressively. During my first year my study habit was low, and eventually it got quite high, but definitely not the maximum. With an average over the first 3 1/2 years of studying Go, I'd give myself 4/10, being strict. 10 is the utmost maximum, after all.
Talent - This is just impossible for me to answer. If I have any talent, I believe it probably lies in positional judgement, and perhaps within my passion itself. Talent-wise, I'll give myself 7/10. I believe in the right circumstances, I definitely could have become a professional 9 Dan.
Environment - The maximum for this would be a kid in Korea or China with multiple pro teachers and surrounded by other players all day, and with lots of competition. However, I did have many friends to help me improve and several Go clubs to Go to, so I'll give myself 2/10. It's actually not that low a score, it's high. Most Go players in North America probably have a 0-2/10 environment in my books.
Resources - I would have given Environment a 3/10, but people helping my out belongs here. When I was a single digit Kyu I got some Go books, and until I was around 2 Dan or something, I had JEFFBOT to teach me. However, there's still a lot of room for more, so I'll give this 3/10.
My total score is 26/50. Who knows, maybe this kind of measurement can tell you how realistic it is for you to try to become a pro?