What if money didn’t exist?

A long while back I was asked to write a speech for high school students that were about to graduate. I never delivered it so I turned it into a – not so short – essay. I was reminded of it because a friend shared this video on Facebook. I believe that the creator of the video, and my essay put up a very strong case for pushing people to pursue their dreams. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Checkmate
by Natalia Cevallos

I walk into a local café as I begin to wonder about life. I approach the counter and order something to drink. At this point, my mind is going a thousand miles an hour, trying to find words, hoping to be able to put some of these thoughts into words. After a few minutes, the girl “hiding” behind a bunch of machines calls out my name. I reach for my drink and without hesitation I ask her a couple of very personal questions: What do you want to do in life? Why did you choose to work here? The second I finish talking I realize it’s not my place and I am intruding her privacy so I immediately excuse myself and tell her not to respond. But I know that will keep her thinking.

I walk away and find a table to sit down. I pull out a piece of paper and begin writing… What’s life? I look up and I see a couple of guys playing a match of chess. Why do we live life as if someone else was telling us what to do? I look at that chessboard again and my mind starts racing even more. Why do we constantly strive for survival on the chessboard of life? And with that thought I smile, knowing that I have found something to talk to you about.

We are born into a specific family and right at that moment we are placed on that chessboard, where everyone has a specific set of functions, a certain importance, and a list of rules to play the match with. There, we are forced to grow in importance, striving to become kings and queens on that board. We are expected to do this, programmed to find happiness only by finding social, political and economical stability.

Why are we expected to be or act a certain way? We are continuously moved around that board, pushed to fight for happiness, to find that one thing that will give us our place and role on that board. That thing that will, eventually, render us this so called happiness.

Happiness – I think… A powerful word, so powerful it is difficult to define it. It is absolutely impossible that my definition of it will be the same as that of the guys playing chess, or yours. Yet, I feel that in order to be able to carry this message through, it is important to find a definition that could potentially apply to, if not all, at least most of us. I take a sip of my drink as I look up, maybe hoping for some sort of divine inspiration.

A few minutes go by and my mind shuts off. I start thinking of everything but the word happiness. I think of who might be winning that match… I digress, I tell myself while forcing my mind to focus on the topic. I begin wondering… no, pondering. After a while, just like a ray of sunshine coming in through the window it hits me: “Happiness, the fulfillment of our needs wants and desires”.

As kids, just like pawns, we are pushed around and told that we must go to school in order to be happy and become “someone” in life, the kings and queens on the chessboard. But, what people often forget to mention is that since the moment of conception we begin to be someone. We exist, and that should be enough. We start our life as pawns, moved around as insignificant pieces, waiting, hoping, fighting to be transformed into more important ones.

As we grow up, not only do we feel the need to grow in importance, but we also start forgetting and putting aside our wants in order to find the stability we are told to need to be able to find what other people believe our happiness should be. But I wonder, why do we keep sacrificing our dreams, what we truly want and replacing it with what others expect from us? Why are we so afraid of fighting for our happiness and instead continue settling with other people’s definition of the word?

I once found myself in a crossroad. I had to make a decision that could have potentially made me loose my own chess match. I had to choose on whether or not I’d continue with the career path that would best fulfill my economical needs or start from scratch with the one that might make me “struggle” economically but that could fulfill all of my wants and desires. It was right at this moment that my life changed forever. I took myself out of that chessboard and stopped letting other people move me around that board as they pleased, and just like that, I won the match. I said checkmate and started fighting for what I wanted.

So, now I have the opportunity to leave you with some advice that I believe could change your lives forever as well: enjoy your lives. Take chances, that’s the only way we can accomplish our goals. Make mistakes, fall, it doesn’t matter how many times as long as you get up having learned a lesson. Laugh every chance you get. Do the things you love doing. Never leave things half-done. Forget about what other people think of you, in the end you will be the only one regretting what you didn’t do. Say checkmate and get yourselves out of that board. But most importantly, be yourselves and love every single part of who you are.

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