Alexander the Great got his name by the outrageousness of his commitment.
He was known as the greatest empire builder of all time. He started that reputation by attacking vastly outnumbered and better equipped armies with only one superior weapon . . . Total Commitment.
In 334 BC he and his minuscule Greek navy landed on the shores of the populous Persian empire, known at the time for having the best fighting force in the world. His brilliant strategy was this . . . To deliberately burn his ships in plain sight of his men. As they looked perplexed at him for destroying their only means of escape, should their optimistic plans turn out to be too difficult to attain, he gleefully smiled back at them and confidently proclaimed, “Now we have to win! Retreat is no longer an option!”
Soon I will be making a similar commitment.
I have been married before. I stupidly said, not in so many words, yet in my unspoken thoughts, “If it works, it works . . . If not, I can always get a divorce.”
I am happy to say, that will not be the case this time.
I suppose part of the reason is because I believe we were meant for each other and that I finally answered “Yes” to the question, “Is this the person I want to grow old with?”, yet the real reason is because of my total commitment to her as my best friend.
My oldest sister and I never got along. I liked her, she just never really cared for me, even as a baby. (Maybe because the new kid on the block was getting all of the attention that she used to get.) Nevertheless, even though to this day she would rather never be in the same room with me, if she needed a kidney, I would give it to her without the slightest hesitation, even if she hated me with all of her guts just minutes before the operation, simply because she is my sister. My commitment to her, as is my love for her, is unconditional. It is in my nature to be totally committed to her forever, no matter what, simply because she is my sister. It is only now that my heart has made the same connection and bond with someone outside of my immediate family, as if they were a family member all along.
Just like those ships in the harbor, if I know they are there, my commitment to the cause is not actually concrete, because I know in my heart, I can always retreat to them if the quest becomes too uncomfortable. I have now burned the ships of retreat in my heart with my new best friend and new family member.
The wonderful discovery is that total commitment produces a victory that would have otherwise been wasted and overlooked, simply because the opportunity for retreat produces in human character the laziness in striving for complete victory. The total commitment itself produces the fruits of total success.
Oddly enough, a contemporary of Alexander the Great was Plato. Around the same time that Alexander forced a victory out of necessity, Plato had just coined the phrase, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”. In marriage too, when both parties have respectively burned their ships of retreat and have totally made up their minds that divorce is never an option, this very commitment itself is what builds a great marriage. As if two strangers were marooned on a vastly remote island without the slightest hope of rescue in their lifetimes, they would inevitably successfully cooperate, because they had no other choice or better way to achieve contented survival.
I really should not be getting married in the world’s eyes, because I live on a very modest social security check, yet the woman who would base her decision to marry me based on my finances, is the very woman I would never want to marry. For whatever reason, I make less money now than I ever have in my entire life, and yet, I am also the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. Ironic, isn’t it? Peace does not come from money, rather from mutual love . . . with total commitment.
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