Dancing In The Maelstrom

Back when I used to play Quake and even Counter-Strike, I had two interconnected philosophies that I incorporated into my gameplay that were roughly based on Taoism. One was to make chaos your friend, thereby taking advantage of it whenever possible, and the other was to keep moving, because stillness basically equated to death.

In terms of making chaos your friend, the idea is to actually create chaos around you and let yourself be absorbed within it so that you become one with it. Of course to do this, you really have to trust yourself and your abilities enough to basically ignore that voice in your head telling you you’re crazy to do this and then fling yourself into the maelstrom. What’s amazing though is that once you become accustomed to it and you learn to truly trust yourself, it’s almost like being a free style dancer (or martial artist), as you weave and dance around your opponents, flowing through them instead of combating them directly.

For example, when I used to play Quake Deathmatch against other players, there were certain key rooms that were heavily contested since they contained powerful armor or weaponry that respawned every so often. These rooms personified chaos. To the person who had never played the game before, they would just sit there stunned thinking how the hell could you survive in there. To the skilled combatant though, the room was a dance floor where the best moves where performed in certain key locations. Again going against logic, the more you were out in the open, in the middle of the room and chaos, the safer you were since you were less likely to take splash damage. In comparison, just imagine a hurricane wherein the eye at the center is calm, yet chaos surrounds you.

As for the emphasis on maintaining movement, again envision a dancer more so than a person who is exhausted and can barely run. The dancer gets their energy from their movement and knows how to maintain it. Flying an airplane is somewhat similar in nature, as a skilled pilot can maintain a plane’s energy through a variety of aerial maneuvers. Therefore, if you ever stopped, you’d lose your energy or flow (also know as Qi). Again just like a dancer, this has a lot to do with maintaining your rhythm as well.

For example, when I used to play Counter-Strike, often times at the start of the round there would be a huge rush to reach certain areas of the map before your opponents did. Well similar to how a martial arts instructor will tell you to strike through your opponent instead of striking at them, I never stopped when reaching these key locations. Instead when engaging the enemy, my focus was on flowing through them like water instead of stopping to fight directly. In doing so, this allowed my teammates to easily take out those opponents I was passing, since the opponents were focused on me and not them, and it also allowed me to get behind the secondary group of opponents and easily strike from behind. Therefore by maintaining my movement, I was able to create much more chaos, which in turn dramatically improved my survivability, and of course aided my team greatly.

Ok, so what. Why relay these stories? Because as Miyamoto Musashi once said, “From one thing, know ten thousand things.” In effect, when you learn one thing in life, see if you can apply it to other areas of your life. Therefore, just as I trusted myself and my abilities as I threw myself into the maelstrom of chaos, so too do we need to start trusting ourselves and our abilities more (and stop thinking so much) when we throw ourselves into other ventures. And just how I focused on maintaining my movement, so too must we realize that we need to keep moving forward with our objectives instead of slowing down so much and stopping to strive for perfection.

I think it’s crucial to point one thing out here though. There is a big difference between just “winging it” and believing you can achieve the unexpected. The fool jumps in without looking where he is going but the explorer surveys the unknown terrain in front of him and has the conviction to know his skills and knowledge will aid him whatever encountered.