When I was a young girl, my Dad’s desk was a place of wonder to me. He had so many treasures in his drawers: a beautiful slender silver letter opener, India ink pens, engineering and architecture rulers, and templates for drawing circles and other shapes, to name a few. Among the treasures were some old yellowed newspaper clippings. One of them was a story that mentioned my Dad.
A famous chess master was coming to town and would be playing against a large number of amateur players at the same time — upwards of twenty, if I recall correctly. My Dad was the youngest chess player to qualify to participate at the age of 14.
Twenty games at the same time! How could anyone keep the strategy for twenty games in their head at the same time, I wondered. So I asked my Dad about it. He said, “You don’t. You come to the board, make the move that most improves your position at that moment in time, and move on.”
I have often pondered that idea, and have found that it is actually an excellent philosophy for living. I am sure that the chess master has a vision for the game — ending in a win. I have a vision for my life, too — ending in eternal life for me and my loved ones. But I can face each new challenge, each move of the adversary, each new day, by making the move that will most improve my position at that moment in time, and move on.
What moves will improve my position? Here are a few thoughts: drawing near to the Lord, growing spiritually, learning to love unconditionally, gaining new skills, learning to trust God, obeying the commandments and living one day at a time.
It is intriguing to me that this philosophy of living is very consistent with my recent post “Living Fully in the Present.” The chess master cannot win the game by living in the past — beating himself up for a bad move or glorying in a previous game. He cannot win the game by living in the future — imagining each move his opponent might make and how glorious his victory will be. He can only win the game by studying the board and making the move that will most improve his position at that moment in time: the present.
- What is your vision for your life?
- What challenges are you facing right now?
- What strategy or moves would improve your position at this moment in time?
- What are you willing to do today?
Please share your thoughts about this metaphor by commenting below.
One thought on “The Chess Strategy for Living”
Such an amazing metaphor! Often life seems overwhelming and that there is no chance I can keep up or keep at it or reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Yet when I focus on my immediate needs and just keep putting one foot in front of the other everything seems to work out just fine. Thank you for another good way to remember to just trust the details and long term planning to the lord and just do the things that will improve my life today.
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