by Oliver Carlos
The first time I got interested in becoming a writer was when I was in Grade 6. The passion was kindled more when I was in high school. I was so hungry for any material or workshop that would improve my writing skills. Since the internet was not yet invented then, such knowledge was so scarce, it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack.
One time, I came across a self-help book and I picked up a very valuable tip from it. The book says that aspiring writers should keep a little notebook wherever we go. Anytime a nice idea or quotation comes along the way, we must write it down quickly in our handy-dandy notebook. The stuff we write in there would someday become useful in the future, when we would be writing our masterpieces. So I kept such a notebook, and I wrote nice quotes I heard and read from everywhere. Indeed, documenting quotes is a great habit every writer should develop.
Recently, one quote became my favorite. It goes like this: “At the end of every chess match, all the kings and pawns return to the same box.” I heard it first from NBA coach Mike D’Antoni, but it’s actually an old Italian proverb.
I like this quote because it’s from one of my favorite coaches, the coach who enabled my favorite NBA players Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin, and James Harden to reach the peak of their respective careers. Another thing I like about this quote is that it’s about my first sport, chess. D’Antoni resided for a long time in Italy where chess must have been popular, and where this quotation traces its origin.
I got to experience cleaning up chess pieces at the end of chess games with my cousins and uncles. That’s the penalty we assigned to losers. When I was a kid, I lose chess matches more often than I win them, and so I end up putting all the pieces back to the box. As I reflect, those chess characters are just pieces of wood at the end of the day. Once inside the box, their being a king, queen, rook, knight, bishop, or pawn ceases.
That quote is not just about chess, basketball, or sports in general; it’s also about life. It talks about interpersonal relationships. We must be always humble when dealing with others, whether they’re kings or pawns or anything in between. We are all human beings and the positions and possessions we acquire on earth are all temporary. We must not look down on others, or treat them as inferiors, because after all, we are equals. We will all return to the same box, which is death.
Another big lesson from that quote is the certainty of death. Biological life of a human has an end. We will all go to that box (death) at the end of our time on earth (chess match). Actually, this quote is mentioned first in the Bible, long before chess was invented. We read it in Ecclesiastes 3:20 (NIV): “All go to the same place, all come from dust, and to dust all return.”
Here’s another related verse:
“Naked I come from my mother’s womb, naked I will depart.” (Job 1:20, NIV)
Knowing that death is inevitable, we might as well invest on the eternal, not only on the temporal. If we cannot bring with us our material wealth, fame, and titles, what then can we bring beyond the grave? Nothing really, except our very own selves. Thus, we must make sure we will not be like the foolish man mentioned in one of Jesus’ talks:
“What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his soul.” (Matthew 16:26, NIV)
God wants you saved. He has a sure way laid out for you. Just humbly approach him, ask for forgiveness of your sins, and have faith that Jesus erased them all for you when he died on the cross. Believe that Jesus is coming back to give eternal life to all those who accepted him as personal Savior. Yes, as simple as that, you get saved.
So who’s afraid of the end of the chess match? Or of the chess box itself? Death isn’t really a scary thing if you know that that is the door to enter eternity with God. You’ll never be afraid when you’re so sure that you will be with God forever.