Look Across the River Before You Wade Into It

There may be nothing worse than walking into a situation blindly with no firm grasp on who is there, what they want, and what it’s all about. Our happiness often takes a hard hit from somewhere out in left field when we don’t do our homework before we enter unfamiliar territory in our lives.

Let’s face it, sometimes we make choices that are little more than a spin of the wheel – hoping against hope that all will be good.

That kind of gamble with our happiness is avoidable 90% of the time if we just take some time to foresee the potential consequences of the choices we’re about to make.

Back in 49 BC – about half a century before the birth of Jesus Christ – Julius Ceasar was warring against the Gauls in what we now know as France. Having conquered that region, he set his sights on crossing the Rubicon River and into Italy. The problem he faced was that this action would violate Roman law and the direct orders of the senate.

With the Latin words Alea iacta est (The die has been cast) – alluding to a game of chance involving dice -, Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon with the full realization that this single action would spark a civil war within the Roman Empire – a war he would ultimately win at the Battle of Pharsalus against Pomey in 48 BC.

Today, the phrase “crossing the Rubicon” carries with it the connotation of making a consequential decision from which there is no return.

So, what’s the decision you’re trying to make?

People often cross their personal “Rubicon” in haste or anger and later come to regret making a momentous decision without appropriate consideration and deliberation.

What are the potential consequences? What is the fallout that likely will occur from your preferred choice?

We are selfish people if we make choices based only on what we want. And ultimately, crossing your “Rubicon” without thought to how your decision will impact those around you will result in escalating your own unhappiness.

Is that choice you’re thinking about making going to be one of those decisions that aren’t easily reversed? Are you likely to start your own civil war with the choice you make?

Julius Caesar had the willpower and the military might to push through the civil war and come out on top, but the aftershocks of that conflict reverberated throughout the empire for years to come. Dissent from the civil war never really died, and Julius Ceasar ultimately paid a hefty price.

Shakespeare put these words into the mouth of Mark Antony as Mark Antony spoke at the funeral of Julius Caesar after Caesar’s assassination.

“The noble Brutus hath told you Ceasar was ambitious; If it were so, it was a grievous fault; And grievously hath Caesar answered it.”

Whether your “Rubicon” decision is driven by ambition (like Ceasar) or anger, disappointment, jealousy, etc. looking down the road a ways to see the consequence before wading into the current can save you much grief and pain.

Until next time, have a happy day.

Before the box