Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro, Sudoku!

As I go on a trip down my memory lane, I can vividly remember my first encounter with a Sudoku. The reminiscent smell of the newly-bought tabloid flared my nostrils. I searched its pages for a crossword puzzle to solve but instead, I found an unfamiliar 9x9 grid with some numbers in it. A sudden sense of curiosity washed over me so I read the direction on how to solve it. It was as easy as ABC because it said you just have to fill in every row, column and 3x3 box with the numbers 1 through 9 only once and voila! An effortless completed puzzle for the day.

I tried to solve the puzzle for the first time with the instruction implanted in my mind. After a few minutes of sweat and deep thinking, I finally put my pen down and cursed, "It's so difficult!"

I haven't even managed to put a single number in any grid! I attempted for the second, third, fourth, and for the umpteenth time, but there was still no outcome. I swore to myself that I would be able to solve one someday.

I kept the feverish fervor drive me; I didn't let tempting laziness and procrastinations (who were both my constant visitors) get in the way. Until one day I finally had my first ever completed Sudoku puzzle. That was the day a new Sudoku master was born (am I being arrogant?). I was embraced with a sense of fulfillment and long-sought victory. That propelled me to solve more and more Sudoku puzzles till it grew into an uncontrollable addiction. This might sound foolish but the puzzle and I somehow created an integral bond where we seemed to throb the same heartbeat of emotions and breathe the same air of success in its mere completion. It was as if I could hear its melodious rhythm, whispering to me what number to place in every grid.

Then an unexpected opportunity came stumbling (and I mean it!) on my way.
When I was scanning the pages of a newspaper, I laid eyes on an unfamiliar type of Sudoku - which I later learned as kendoku - on the page next to the front. It seemed very unusual finding it on that page because it should be located in the entertainment section. I found out that it was an entry for the upcoming 4th Philippine Sudoku Super Challenge Regional Eliminations. At first, I just ignored it because I thought I didn't stand any chance of winning the never-heard competition. But as the days passed and the competition neared, the thought of joining it haunted me to my very core. Out of nowhere, a voice - my conscience, perhaps - suddenly murmured to me an age-old adage that goes like this: It is more forgivable to have tried but lost, than to haven't tried at all and regret in the end.

That provoked me to send entries and participate in the competition, win or lose. And I didn't fail my "conscience", or whatever it might be, because I brought home the bacon! I became the representative of the National Capital Region for the national finals. See, if I didn't give it a try, I wouldn't experience competing in the nationals and would surely be bogged down with "what ifs." In the national finals, curtains unfortunately fell on me for I lost. But that wouldn't halt me from continuing what makes me happy and fulfilled and from reaching for the stars of my dreams. Wait for my name printed on newspapers as the next Philippine Sudoku Super Challenge national champion!

One thing I have learned from this noteworthy experience is that it made me realize that I found my perfervid passion and that's in solving Sudoku puzzles. There's more to life than just routinely doing what you do, slacking around, stuffs like those. Go on an adventure to solve hard-to-fill-up grids in your life. Search for that passion that would complete your lackadaisical life. Have you already found yours?

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