These past few days I recall how I quelled the anger of a client whose paperwork had been wrong. I needed to write an apology letter and in so doing garnered some acclaim with his advisors as I likened it to a game of chess. Though the words written in that letter are far from my mind they remain apropos to so many things of life.

Today, so many relate to “winning” as the only option. We hear so much about who comes in first in a race. Second place is of little or no consequence — beyond telling those we love, it’s okay to be second.

Knights Templar Playing Chess in 1283

So, let’s return to that game of chess a moment. Tell that to the families of those who won’t come home from War. Or, a date night because of a drunk driver. even the chance accident when a storm takes the ones we love.

When learning the game of Chess, many find it completely disheartening to lose their Queen. Seeking to keep from sacrificing what they perceive as their most important, cherished piece at all costs. Later, we come to understand that there might be other pieces more important if used in combination. And, we seek to find a balance. That balance that serves to protect the King at all costs.

If I were King…

How would I direct my forces to protect my kingdom? How would I seek to protect all that is deemed precious to me?

What of life is garnered through the understanding of this game?

Do we trade pieces in order to achieve self satisfaction in preservation of our personal goals and desires? How often do we then sacrifice our Queen for selfishness?

It no longer matters if the game is played by a man or a woman. The sacrifice is the same. We remain so focused on ourselves that we sacrifice (destroy) the most integral and precious of relationships so we can “win.” Win what? A new life? A new job? The discovery of secrets we hope never to have known? Are we just justifying our choices to protect that false integrity?

I have written of my sister, Joo. Of how I was home when she was kidnapped. But I have denied for myself some harder truths. My feeling that I should have been taken instead of her. Logical to a 12 year old, I suppose. To watch those I love dealing with her being gone. Knowing (I thought) that if it would have been me, they would be better off. Because I would survive. One day being able to come home. I thought I had to let myself be taken as a punishment for her loss. This, in a time when my own family was under attack.

I suppose my training in the martial arts was a safety net. Preparing that, should that opportunity ever come again, I might do my penance for the one who never came home. And when that time came, I, the King, sacrificed myself, that those I love could join with another kingdom — never to hurt again.

So let’s return to that game of chess

Where we look at the pathways of success. For some merely seek to find a stalemate if unable to claim clear victory. No matter how trusted we become in our own abilities and sensibilities, there is always an opportunity for our adversary to counter-attack without us seeing the obvious.

In life, how would the battle change if a Queen sought to tear down the kingdom? What if the reputation of your Knight was tarnished? How would an unscrupulous Bishop serve the kingdom? And finally, what if your stalwart Rook refused to castle in the protection of his King? When all that remains of your people, common Pawns in the game of life, can you still defend the King’s honor?

Trying to fight on is often ridiculed by those who once professed undivided devotion. They cry out seeking to know why someone would continue against insurmountable odds. Then profess their own knowledge of things never before declared.

Even in all of this, the true King can prevail. For in a darkness of his eminent demise, maintaining integrity causes him to retain the simplicity of “hope.”

Hope is a new beginning. Knowledge of a prior pathway builds upon that simple principle. The behavior of others matters less when the leader remains strong. And in that darkest hour, when all seems lost, the strategy of ages long past come to the fore. Belief in something greater than one’s self. The trials endured ARE but for the moment. The pieces scattered upon the field of battle are crystallized into a pattern for success. For when we devote our lives to those who will ultimately fail us, we preserve the dignity of our board. The worth of each soul being maintained by being a King. That King.

If we are lost for a time, a new game begins. This is where the battle learned prepares us to win the War. For do we not reset the board to start anew once the “game” is lost? Then when the pieces all come together in defense of a pathway true, we learn to win. Countless battles where we are taught valuable lessons.

I have endured and survived some terrible horrors in battles past. Sufficient that I should swear-off even life itself… if I were cynical enough to believe it an end. And so, I begin again. The board is clear. The choice of white or black. The color not important, except that which reflects your soul. In this the question remains;

“Whom will you sacrifice for the sake of pride and selfishness?”

As for me…

I will play without having to win in terms of how the world sees the win. I will respect those pieces enough to mourn for every loss. To defend every piece as most precious and cherished. I will think before I move. Contemplate the consequences of each decision. Learning what lessons are most important. That those lost to the past will never be forgotten. Whether I see them again in this incarnation or the next.

This I do because I know what it is to triumph in adversity. I now know what my sister Joo went through. Never to be together again. And in quiet moments of reflection, I would like to think that she would know she is loved and thought of often. Just as those I love and cherish from afar in their new chosen lives.

That brings me to this; Life is NOT a chessboard.

Your Queen must be protected at all costs. The pieces that represent your family are not a part of any game. They are life. The lives you helped create. Never to be demeaned or decried. For the choices of life most precious are those that keep them safe. Even as the sacrifice may be your King.

In this, you have a choice. By your example, be the King.