I am not the autumn moon, Chris Cornell sang in I am the Highway, I am the night.
The night, not the moon. The highway, not the rolling wheels.
But what are you?
The autumn moon or the infinite night?
The one seems stuck in a gravitational orbit that pins her to insignificance. A life that is not her own. The other is infinite, and mystical in nature, anchoring itself in the infinite participation in everything.
This feels a bit like a no brainer.
The choice is seemingly obvious, don’t you think? But many people, myself included, have chosen to be the moon. We have stubbornly denied our rightful inheritance to be the night.
Ben and Rosamund Zander, in their book The Art of Possibilities, see it this way: you are either a chess piece, or else you are the board.
This is lovely, you must be thinking.
Moons. Highways. Wheels. Nights. Pawns. Rooks. Queens. Kings. Oh my.
What is this? Metaphor Thursday?
But let me explain.
For years, and on the rare days I still forget, I consider myself a pawl.
On the good days, I imagine myself as a King or a Queen. Maybe a Castle or a Knight. On the not so good days, I dejectedly accept my role as an expandable pawn. Limited in movement. Born and bred as cannon fodder. Unimportant. Unworthy. Afraid. Susceptible to the sudden power shifts by either side.
I have spent my entire life, it seems, trying to become something I am not. To be a more desirable piece. A more important piece, that matters, in a game I didn’t agree to play. Desiring be someone who is afforded a little more movement. A bit more power, and perhaps a tiny smidge of panache.
But we are not chess pieces.
We are not doomed to react to people and the environment around us.
We are, we are not convicted to do.
When someone asks you how your day is going, they are seeking a little more insight than a hap hazard weather report.
When bad things happen to good people. When we face down our own fears. When we stumble back again into our addictions, we need to choose if we are going to be the moon, or all-encompassing night. A chess piece, or the board.
What you decide, makes a big difference.
If you become a chess piece. Your mistakes become fatal. Your decisions or indecisions become a matter of life and death. In a scarce universe, the things you say and do, bring you closer or further away from the material riches and the life you are dreaming of living.
If you are the board, you know well enough, that you have to suspend all judgement, about anything; about everything.
There is no us and them. There is no black and white. We are everything.
We become all the pieces. We command all the squares.
Yes, we will always be a seemingly insignificant little chunk of blood and guts, but also a meaningful part of an infinite whole.
If we choose to be.
The failures you face today will knock the wind out of you. They will make you spit blood. Drop you to your knees.
There is just no pleasant way around it. The only shortcut is the long way through them.
But in time, those failures and mistakes that shook us to the core become faded moments of triumph, or turning points. They are reimagined as shining stars leading your way to Bethlehem.
It’s really easy to be a pawn. It’s easy to move forward to E4.
But it’s not a game you want to play.
The choice is yours.
It’s your turn.