You know that place: that point where you “stay the course” because turning back simply can’t be done (physically impossible), it’s expensive (prohibitively so), or dangerous. It could be an irreversible action (signing a contract) or a calculated point in a process (when the gas gauge on your airplane says you don’t have quite enough fuel to get back to where you took off).
Julius Caesar knew that place in 49 B.C. Roman generals were specifically forbidden from bringing their armies into the Republic. On January 10th, Caesar led his army across the Rubicon River, crossing into Italy. After this point, if he didn’t triumph in his intentions, he would be executed. He had, as we say today, “crossed the Rubicon.”
Caesar put himself at that point intentionally. I think many of us have. We needed to make it clear, very clear, to ourselves or others, that we had reached the point of resolve: we had moved from discussion, deliberation and debate and the decision was made. Everything is resolved, settled and committed. Our firmness of purpose is clear for all to see.
Fifteen years ago I committed to my first, and only to this point, “century ride.” That’s a bicycle ride of 100 miles or more within 12 hours. I was new to cycling as an adult and had only been riding for five months at the time of the “century.” Looking back, I’m not sure how “committed” (as though “committed” represents degrees of resolve rather than an absolute) I was. I knew all too well there were three shorter alternate routes I could take, up to a certain point. That point was at the 42 mile marker where the road forked. I stopped my riding companions there for a moment; I needed to decide. There were no more shortcuts beyond that point. Up to then it had been a “fun ride”.
I actually committed and everything changed. It was still fun but my focus was clear. Very clear. Every rotation of the pedals was an investment calculated to deliver a return to the end state just past 100 miles. The same was true for every gram of carbohydrates, sip of water, and sift of gears. No longer were there any thoughts of “I can always… if I need to.” Nope, this was going to happen. It was resolved. I had clarity. I knew what I had to do.
Well, it happened. It wasn’t all that pretty to behold, but the power of resolve, of firmness of purpose had prevailed.
I had crossed the Rubicon and lived to tell about it.
In Other Words…
“It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.” ― Winston S. Churchill
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ― Margaret Mead
“Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.” ― C.S. Lewis
“Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it’s what you want before you commit.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert
In The Word…
“The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” – Proverbs 16:4