After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.

After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box. – Italian Proverb

Despite the impossibility of the location of the pieces, the King, the Pawn, and the Queen are about to go back into the box. What remains behind?

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.

From: Twitter, @proverbs4you
confirmed at :
Photo by Edwin Dalorzo

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33 Responses to After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.

  1. SALIL KUMAR GUPTA 13 June 2015 at 3:22 pm #

    Chaps This is a crude mis-shaping of something so elegant and eloquent first quoted by Omar Khayyam in his Rubai viz

    But helpless pieces in the game He plays,
     Upon this chequer-board of Nights and Days,
    He hither and thither moves, and checks… and slays,
     Then one by one, back in the Closet lays.

    in 1048, translated by Fitzgerald…earth shattering !

    • philosiblog 15 June 2015 at 3:04 am #

      Interesting, never heard of it that way before. Thanks for the info.

      • markib 15 June 2015 at 1:25 pm #

        if everything would have gone to the same box and why do they have to make all this fuss in the first place…..

      • philosiblog 16 June 2015 at 11:17 pm #

        Thanks for stopping by and for leaving such an interesting question to ponder.

        To me, the key is “after the game”… In the game, they are very different. The King would likely not associate with the pawns, etc.

        But how many believe the exact same thing happens to each of us after the game, after we die? If we agreed on that, then our attitude towards each-other in life would be much easier, wouldn’t it?

  2. Forest Dewberry 8 April 2015 at 1:08 am #

    Are you sure that’s an italian proverb? I saw it as a youtube comment and wanted to see where it was from so I googled it; nothing official came up.

  3. brett 8 December 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    I first found this quote as a teenager and put it on my childhood deck. My parents have let it remain there for over 40 years now. It’s still a great remkmder and has taken on new significance ask have grown closer to the box myself…

    • philosiblog 10 December 2014 at 3:20 am #

      Thanks for stopping by, and for leaving your comment.

      This can be a sobering thought at any age. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Richard 30 November 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Funny that this quote was in the HALO 4 Movie.:)

    • philosiblog 30 November 2013 at 5:14 pm #

      Just shows that you can’t keep a good quote down!

      Thanks for stopping by, and for leaving a comment.

  5. followyourshadow 11 September 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    Hello. I stumbled across your blog when I was searching for this particular quote which had partly inspired me to write Checkmate

    I love how you explain these quotes.

    • philosiblog 12 September 2013 at 3:30 am #

      Thanks! Glad you liked it.

  6. Jill (@nillabelle) 19 July 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    So very humbling and a great reminder. Life seems easier when you live like you have nothing to lose keeping in minds laws, morals ethics and common sense mind you.

    • philosiblog 20 July 2013 at 4:49 am #

      Thanks for the kind words. Glad it was of use to you.

      • angel 28 July 2013 at 4:32 pm #

        I often wonder how I can make myself more successful…but reading this quote reminds me never to compare your life with others rather just live your life..cause we all are really the same

  7. Rocki 18 May 2013 at 3:24 am #

    when i first read this..i think the mean is about the player..^^
    theres a winner and the losser
    the pawns and king is the idea in brain (that box)
    mean everyone has a same opportunity to win but only the smarter can use it better.
    but you explain the better than i thank you so much.

    • philosiblog 19 May 2013 at 4:10 am #

      To me, that’s the fun of these quotes. There are so many ways to take them. I like your idea as well.

      I’m glad you read the blog post and found it useful.

  8. Don 12 May 2013 at 2:28 am #

    Thanks for the challenge

    • philosiblog 12 May 2013 at 8:04 pm #

      You are most welcome. I’m glad you found the post useful.

  9. used handphone 9 April 2013 at 7:38 am #

    Hi, thanks for sharing

    • philosiblog 9 April 2013 at 1:58 pm #

      You’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Daniel 24 November 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    Maybe it also means that the king is not better than a pawn because they all end up at the same place. Meaning also that if you are in a good position or have achieved something in live you still should not feel superior ( be arrogant) to other people who maybe haven’t achieved as much. (You’re not better, you’re going to end up just like everyone)

    • philosiblog 25 November 2012 at 1:44 am #

      I guess we all end up in a box eventually. :O
      Lots of different ways you can go with this quote. Thanks for your input.

      • John 18 January 2014 at 6:41 am #

        Dude, no. Daniel is correct, and there is no other way to interpret this proverb.

      • philosiblog 18 January 2014 at 9:30 pm #

        Of course, you are right. My mistake. 8)

  11. Daniel 24 November 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    I really like this quote.


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