In Episode 4 of The Queen’s Gambit, the fictional chess genius Beth Horton and her adoptive mother travel to Mexico City to contest a tournament. At the end of the episode, the mother dies suddenly of suspected Hepatitis, leaving Beth tragically orphaned for a second time in her as yet very young life.
On the afternoon before she died however, there is a wonderful scene of the lady in question, the fictional Alma Wheatley, playing piano happily in the lobby of the hotel for herself, and also for an appreciative audience who have spontaneously gathered. She was a talented pianist, but never tried to play it professionally because of stagefright.
Reflecting on the episode – it is nice to think that Alma had this moment for herself before she died, and that Beth got to witness her so happy in her final hours. Now of course this is fictional and dramatised, and not the way things play out in most of our lives, but it reminded me of a message I have heard many times, a message worth repeating.
Practice hard if you want, play professionally if you want, be as good as you can be if thats what you want, but don’t forget to keep some moments for yourself – playing what you want to play, in the way you want to play it. Because otherwise what’s the point?