Friday, February 19, 2016

The Point of No Return

This subject came to mind after reading some posts, the subject of the point of no return. This was a concept that was first introduced by General Sun Tzu in "The Art of War." The idea is how to get human troops to make the ultimate sacrifice without retreat. He said to lead them so far into battle that to retreat would take as much or more energy than to move on and fight. I've used this in my life a few times, mostly in my youth like when I left home to go find myself. I burned my bridges and made it harder to go back than to go forward. This helped me become a new person and tear myself away from psychological fears that kept me back.
Though these days, I find I always have something to fall back on. Adulthood and parenting makes us crave security and our fears become our armor. After all, those who retreat are more likely to survive, just not likely to feel any glory or greatness. Still, as much as advise people not to burn their bridges, there is a distinct advantage to doing so.

Sometimes you have to quit that job and even tell your boss to fuck off so you know you'll never fall back on it. I've seen some people always go back to their old safety nets, making it a great excuse to give up attempts to go elsewhere; but if you cut that net, you just can't do that. You have to keep moving forward. There's also a strange lift, like another option you don't have to stress over, another burden or life you don't have to be anymore.

You'll hear stories of people selling their souls, musicians who signed contracts they never should have, losing money and having the nerve to move on. Yet if they didn't make that first sacrifice, that all or nothing deal, they would still be home, living a cushiony life, their dreams far off in the distance. That five year contract you sign may seem like forever, but once you've served your time, you have the world at your feet. You'll know things you would never had known if you had a loop hole of escape. But you have to commit to this new life and that's the bottom line. Change is hard and even though we want to, many of us won't change unless we absolutely have to. We'll stay in unhappy jobs and marriages. We'll watch our dreams disappear into the distance while we hang on to our life rafts but we won't burn our bridges. We'll always go back to the cushion of our past, no matter how disfunctional it might be, its home. 

When the thought of staying the same overcomes the fear of change, we light that fire and watch the past crumble away. Sometimes our minds regret it but our gut emotions are too strong. We have to grow, we have to let go, we have to look forward to who we'll become. And sometimes, after the battle has been won or lost, we find that somewhere in those burnt ashes of the past--after the new vines grow over the old ruins--there is something left for us to go back to after all, but when we do, we know ourselves just a little bit better.