Monday, August 24, 2015

Chess Match

Jimmy hadn't played chess since he'd taken up poker, but when the boss at his new day job challenged him to a match, he felt compelled to accept. They met at a table top board in a park in South Philly on a Saturday afternoon.

The boss came out aggressive, marching his white pawns two spaces at a time straight at Jimmy's black ones, creating a gap in front of his power pieces. Jimmy moved a couple of black pawns one space forward setting up a zig zag sort of a front, opening up a lane for his bishop and one for his queen. After his boss continued to push pawns at him, the first piece Jimmy brought off the back line was a knight.

Jimmy knew why the boss really asked him to play that day: to see what Jimmy was made of, see if he was someone who could be pushed up the company ladder. Though Jimmy wasn't sure what he wanted out of the job, he enjoyed just about any game of skill, and he didn't mind an opportunity to see what made the boss tick, get a read on him.

Once his pawns were positioned to halt the boss's, Jimmy attacked the board's gaps with a bishop and both knights. Boss went into defensive mode and started talking about work. "Ever think about management, Jimmy?"

Jimmy nodded. "Sure boss, I've given it some thought."

The boss launched an offensive with his queen, and now Jimmy had to play defense. He shifted a knight and moved his other bishop and slid his rook along the back line. A counter attack presented itself and Jimmy saw an opportunity that would lead to check mate. When he looked into his boss's eyes, though, he saw something that made him hesitate, like the match somehow meant a lot more to the older man than Jimmy assumed it would. Normally Jimmy would never back off when he sensed an opportunity, certainly not at the poker table where his hard earned money was always on the line, but here in the park as the trees shook with a slight breeze, he decided he didn't care whether he won or lost.

"Check mate," the boss announced twenty three moves later, smiling broadly. "Thought for sure you had me a while back."

Jimmy shrugged. "Win some, lose some."

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Place to Make Mistakes

We all need a place to make mistakes.

We all need a chance to get it wrong.

The weight of the world can pull us down.

Guilt we feel or forget from breath to breath.

Reactions of others affect us in some way.

Internal systems function or fall apart.

Settings determine levels of impact.

Casualties yield consequences.

Survival of some seems arbitrary,

But it's never that simple.

Practicing for life wherever we can,

Trying to do something well,

We can grow beyond those difficult moments

When we have a place to make mistakes.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Walking the Line

It's the line we walk in every situation we encounter.

It's the guy on the park bench staring at your five year old daughter and smiling. You watch her play and you watch him. Just an old man who sees innocence and can't stop looking, or that lowest of humans against whom every decent adult must defend every child?

It's the guy standing on the corner of your street, ten feet from your house, with his hands in his pockets after midnight. You keep tabs on him out the corner of your eye as you unlock your front door. A young man out for a late stroll, or the lookout while his friends lurk in the alleyway two terraces down, waiting for the right opportunity to assault and rob?

We hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, working to leave the world a better place than we found it, trying not to run out of time.