This original Kurt Vonnegut “artwork” resides on the wall of our offices at work, along with dozens of other original pieces of word art by the venerated author. Seeing them every day makes me wish I’d entered the business earlier, gotten this job earlier, so I’d have been able to meet the man myself. His spirit resides in our offices, to be sure.
But I got to thinking about what this could mean as applied to life. I know what castling means in chess, of course. (My younger son taught me when he was three; don’t fool yourself into thinking that I know anything about chess.) But how does this play out in the non-board-game world?
Castling involves making two moves at once, but it’s not just that. It also moves your king into a safer position while placing allowing your rook the opportunity to play a more active role in the game. The king, of course, is the most important piece in chess, given that if your king is captured, you’ve lost the game. The rook, itself, is considered a “major piece” in its own right, alongside queens, and while it looks like a castle (hence the term “castling”) its origins are actually from the Persian word rukh (“chariot”). And Persian chariots were always prepared to wage war, heavily armored and populated by a driver and at least one weapon-bearer (such as an armed archer).
Who knows what Vonnegut’s father meant when he uttered this little quip (or whether his father actually even said it). Let’s assume the best on both counts, though. Metaphorically speaking, it’s an interesting concept. When in doubt: protect the most precious parts of yourself while simultaneously giving your chariots — your armed war chariots — free reign to do what needs to be done to protect said precious parts.
It’s a pretty cool idea, actually. Not that we should wage war when we’re in doubt… but there is something to be said for sending out the sentry as a precautionary measure to make sure our bases are covered when things are up in the air and we don’t know what else to do, no? As usual, Vonnegut is on to something.