Monday, June 19, 2006

The gambit.

The week that Benjamin, our hero, turned 30, he purchased his first chessboard. He thought it was pretty. It was polished cherry, and it folded so that he could carry it around in the brown leather briefcase that he'd always intended to use more often. The chessboard reminded him of one that his grandfather owned. (Of course, his grandpa only used it for checkers.)

The chessboard seemed to Benjamin like the sort of prop that a distinguished man should own, the device of a man who knew where he was going. The briefcase struck him with the same notion. Benjamin, upon turning 30, had no idea where he was going, and that frightened him. He never expected to be this aimless. Somehow, the chessboard and briefcase provided him with comfort. His reasoning was funny. It seemed to him more likely that he could become the man that he wanted to be if he had the right props, even if he didn't know how to use them.

Thus, the chessboard was a birthday present he gave himself, along with a beginner's book on the game. More importantly, on this very page, he wrote down to himself what the board was for. He thought that writing it down might keep the board from being another whim purchase, that writing it down might stop him from continuing to be the same aimless guy he already was.

Lots of things happened the week Benjamin turned 30. The chessboard wasn't even the first. He just bought it for himself so that he could have a tangible reminder of his plans. He intended to accept himself more. He intended to change. Benjamin wanted a life of embraced possibility.

So what if he wasn't very good at chess?

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