After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box. – Italian Proverb
What does that mean?
In the literal sense, it means that when you’re done playing chess, all the pieces go back in the same box, no matter how lofty or lowly their position was in the game, no matter which side they were on.
In life, when we are done with the ‘game,’ we all go into the same box. In the age of this quote, that meant a catacomb or in the ground. Everyone, from a King to a serf (or slave) would end up dead when the game was over. In short, the game is rigged, and no one gets out alive. Kind of sad, but true none the less.
Why is the motivation of your life important?
Whether you believe in life with a hereafter, life revolving on a wheel, or death with nothing to follow, all we really have (for the moment, at least) is what we have. All we are is what we make of ourselves. It’s similar to another quote about which I talked a few months back.
For this post, let’s consider the chasing of fame and riches, as that is the usual differentiation between a pawn and a king, or a commoner and a King. If all you are doing is going into a box, and you can’t take it with you, is it really worth devoting your life to the accumulation of earthly honors and vast fortunes?
Where can I apply this in my life?
Take a moment and list the things you want listed on your tombstone. Do you want to be the richest person in your neighborhood, country, or the world? Do you want a Nobel Prize or some other great recognition? Do you have an amount of money or personal net worth as a target before you die? Grab some paper and write these things down.
Now, for each item you wrote down, add your motivation. Are you accumulating your wealth like Scrooge, or like Bill Gates? One hoarded it for the sake of self, the other amassed a fortune and is now giving it away. Please don’t put value judgements (good/evil, right/wrong) on them yet. Some people have large families and are a shining star, and want to provide for their family for generations. Just write down what and why.
Done with that? Good. Take a look at your reasons. Now circle the reasons you believe to be for the good of your family, friends, or everyone else on the planet. This is to separate the ego (those things you are doing to be more a king than a pawn) from the things that help others more than they help you.
For the longest time, I did things for me, because I had no one else I really cared about. Then, as I matured, I reconnected with my family, and eventually had one of my own. Now, while I still do things for my family and my friends, I am looking at doing more for an ever larger group of people.
I don’t consider the simple accumulation of money or titles to be evil or wrong of itself. Even if the goal was simply self-aggrandizement, when the person is dead, the value will be distributed to the heirs, and from there, who knows. It still may serve to help others, so I try not to judge those who seem to be doing nothing beyond helping themselves. Good can still come from that.
I would now challenge you to take a look at each of the non circled reasons you have on your list and consider if you are willing to change those reasons. If so, please consider finding reasons that will benefit others, even if it’s only after your death. At least I hope it’s something to which you will give some consideration.
Just remember, when you’re dead, you’re dead. Have you ever seen a hearse with a trailer behind it? Perhaps back in Ancient Egypt, but not so much any more, right? Do what you can to help yourself, your family, your friends, and everyone else in this life. That’s all anyone can ask of another.