I don’t remember who taught me to play chess. Maybe my dad? I just remember knowing how to play. The game was dormant in me for years, but when my son was in primary school, I taught him to play.
He caught on quickly, and I began needing to strategize and actually think through my plays. No, there were no drug-induced, inverted chess boards on the ceiling of my bedroom (but that would’ve been really cool). He soon surpassed my abilities, even winning second place in a district chess tournament at eight years old.
I’ve continued to play intermittently throughout the years, both with my son, and occasionally with students. In my classroom, pre-Covid, a chessboard was always available so that students could play with one another, or I could play with them.
I still play the game, but I’m a little more enjoyment, and a little less Queen’s Gambit.
In a previous life, I owned a piece of art by Vancouver creative, Sid Dickens. I adore Sid’s plaques, and have several in my home at this very minute. But I grew to despise this one particular plaque. It was a pawn, and the script read “play the game.”
Every time I walked by it in my living room, my body would tense, and a strong, visceral “NO!” would project from somewhere deep within me.
No to being a pawn. No to peace at all costs. No to following the prescribed path. No to religious rules. No to sucking it up. No to dumbing down. No to dimming my roaring fire.
I have a vivid memory during this season of staring at my own crying reflection in the bathroom mirror, like a little “Liz Gilbert,” and asking aloud “what the hell are you doing? How did you end up here?”
I have always despised fake, and yet, here I was, faking it. I had been a roaring fire, and now I felt like a tiny pilot light, about to be snuffed out.
Except I said NO! to playing the game. And I am reignited.
I used to be a queen. But I lost her for a while. Because of loss, I accepted my role as a pawn, but truly, I hate all that the word implies. Limited power, minimal choices, and reduced agency.
I played the game faithfully in the position until I was able to cross over. I pushed past the line that allowed me to reclaim my queen. I’ve always been her. I just didn’t look like her for a while.
And now I have regained my power, my choices, my agency. I can move forward or backward as I please. I can move in small steps, or large leaps depending on what seems right to me. I have once again become uninhibited. I will hold my head high. I will move with intention. I will do all that I can to protect and serve my people.
If you are a maverick like me, done with playing the game, and ready to live authentically, then I cannot wait to share my upcoming @quoir book, “Good Things Happen In The Dark.”