In 49 B.C. Julius Ceasar was residing in Ravenna, Italy. He was under orders from the Roman Senate not to cross the Rubicon. For any Roman General to do so was considered treason. His decision to cross the small Italian river and head for Rome changed his own future and that of the Empire.
Most of us reach a crossroads in life where we have to make a decision that will change our future, and often the future of many others. Those kind of decisions come with inherent risks. For Caesar it meant the prospect of civil war, charges of treason and even death. For most of us the consequences may not be quite as dire, but just as serious (at least to those whose lives we impact).
In April of 1992 a young Christopher McCandless headed into the Alaskan Wilderness – a decision that cost him his life. That decision not only had tragic consequences for Christopher, but generated a tremendous sense of heartache and loss for his family and friends.
I have friends who have made career decisions that brought unforeseen consequences on them, their families and their futures. I know those who walked away from their homes, families and previous life to pursue desires and passions that promised liberation or happiness, but brought only heartache and sorrow. Not every life-changing decision is negative. Sometimes that step into the unknown, that act of boldness and courage brings the same kind of rewards that Caesar enjoyed. We embark on a journey to conquer our own kingdoms.
There is no easy answer that tells us what we should do. Caesar was known as an ambitious, power-monger who only thought of himself – others see him as a courageous General who changed the course of history. McCandless has been called bold, courageous and adventurous. He is held in some circles as and example of living a completely untethered life. Others see him as self-absorbed, foolish and inconsiderate.
Crossing your own Rubicon does mean one thing – that you have the courage of accepting the consequences that come with your decision. Many brave souls have lost their lives trying to ascend Mt.Everest – others have received the praise and adulation of men for conquering new frontiers, inventing new vaccines, or throwing caution to the wind to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
Will you play life safe and avoid the criticism and rewards that come with risk, or will you brave your own frontier and cross your own Rubicon?