Not Everyone Misses Their First Jump
I know kung fu.
Drive woke me up early this morning and put me straight to work with the basic training program. He said most operators skip the first three components -- which is crazy, because they're scads of fun. I'll write about them when I'm not so exhausted.
Once we finished the intro sections, he hooked me up with the gauntlet of martial arts, as well as weapons training, self-defense techniques, and basic electrical engineering. Then, because of the nature of my mission, he loaded me up with programming languages -- HTML, Java, XML, C++, Linux, a Matrix-specific language called XTLS, and several others.
"How do you feel?" Drive asked.
"Full," I said, reeling from the wad of experience.
"Now comes the fun part," he said, and popped in a disc marked "Sai". I blinked and found myself in a dojo -- paper walls adorned with scrolls of Zen calligraphy. in the middle of this huge room sat a small square table on stout legs, laced with a grid of lines and scattered with small black and white stones (they looked like mints).
Kneeling at the table was a gentleman in a flowing white robe and a tall black hat. He held a stone in his right hand; in his left was a paper fan. He looked up at me and smiled. "Hello," he said. "I'm Sai."
As I approached the table, he waved the fan toward me and I reeled from the shock. Just as I'd been stuffed full of ju-jitsu and CSS, I opened my eyes to find my mind crammed with Go skills. Suddenly I had mastered tesuji, fuseki, joseki, chuban, sabaki, and yose.
I took a deep breath -- Sai was staring at me. "I'm a 7 dan," I said.
He gestured to the board. "Show me," he said.
So we played. I'd never played the game before, but I felt indestructible. My frameworks came together without effort, and my invasions struck with brutal force. I captured stones and cut walls like nobody's business. And yet, as the endgame approached, I knew I had lost.
"How did I beat you?" Sai asked.
"I don't know," I said. "You're better than me."
He raised an eyebrow. "You were looking at the same board I was," he said. "Do you believe it had to do with a particular pattern or some series of trick plays?"
I studied the board, then looked up at him. He smiled.
Suddenly, I noticed Hakuin standing behind me. I rose to face him, and when I looked back, Sai and the board were gone. I returned to Hakuin. "What was that about?" I asked.
"Our battle requires patience, logic, and balance," he said. "Go facilitates all of these." He walked several paces past me. "Sai defeated you," he said, "because he can peer into more possibilities than you can. He's released his assumptions and shaken hands with the gods. You must do the same."
And the dojo was gone.
My First Jump
We were on the roof of a huge skyscraper. "You have to let it all go," he said, and -- with a running start -- he leaped across a thirty-foot chasm to the roof of a neighboring building.
"Woah," I said.
"Don't think you can," he called out. "Know you can."
I narrowed my eyes at him. I realized then that the rest of the crew was watching our activities. A muffled sound surrounded me, filled with scratches and silences -- the mute function of the observation code was malfunctioning. I wondered if Hakuin realized this, or if maybe it only affected my connectors. Pretending to study the edge of the building, I tried to make out what they were saying.
"Everyone misses their first jump," Kelvin announced.
I chewed my lip and thought about it. Obviously it was possible, but I couldn't imagine how I could do it.
Suddenly, it hit me. "Come back," I called out to Hakuin. He leaped back to my rooftop and gave me an expectant look. "Take us to the street," I said. He made a suspicious face, but gestured and we appeared on a busy street in the city.
"Can you pick up that car?" I asked, pointing to a blue hatchback next to us.
"The real question is: Can you?" he said.
"So our ability to manipulate objects is subject to our will, more than the weight or will of the object?"
He thought for a second, then nodded. "Yes."
"Throw me," I said.
He scowled. "Throw you?"
I nodded. "Throw me four blocks."
"I won't be able to jump the building until I know that it's possible for my body to move like that. Since I can't get myself to do it, I want you to do it to me. Then I'll be able to internalize the experience and bring it back when I need it."
He moved to respond, then froze. His leg twitched as he folded his hands and stood staring at me, his face blank. I waited.
"Okay," he said finally. I put my hands out and he grabbed my wrists. He swung me 180 degrees and sent me flying four city blocks, past stores, cars, and people (who apparently didn't notice me). As I landed, I tucked my head down and rolled. Once I had stopped, I rose and raced back to him.
"To the rooftops, please," I said. He grinned and we were there. I backed up several feet, ran, and launched myself over the side.
Not everyone misses their first jump.