There’s a scene at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy, despite being precariously perched on the cusp of certain death, desperately reaches for the elusive Holy Grail. “I can get it,” he gasps to his father, “I can almost reach it, Dad…”
Professor Henry Jones, who had been searching for the Holy Grail his whole life but now just as desperately is trying to save his suddenly smitten offspring, gently says, “Indiana.” His surprised son looks up at him. “Indiana,” continues the father, “let it go.”
And so he does.
Imagine spending your whole life striving to achieve that one goal, only to purposely back away when it lay within your clear grasp. How would you feel? What would be so important to have you “let it go”? And could you ever again hold as deep a conviction as what once drove you to that precipice?
I can now answer those questions, for, within the past few days, I’ve had to let go of a lifetime dream. Oh, sure, the merry-go-round may once more take me within a hair’s touch of that same brass ring, but this would have been the ideal time and place for me to grab it.
But, unlike what you might suspect, I am not left with a feeling of forlorn emptiness. Rather, maybe surprising, maybe not, I now have enlightenment on two levels. First, I had thought I had long ago rid myself of any desire for this prize. And yet, when a series of improbable events placed me in a position to credibly pursue it, that old lust returned as if it had never departed. I rediscovered something about me that my family, my work and my community could never erase. In a weird way, my inherent philosophical and intellectual consistency gladdens me.
Second – and this might be a bit obvious now – I learned I don’t like treading water. There’s a reason I once wrote fondly of the exclamation Excelsior! I thought, like so many Samurai of old, I could find peace returning to the rural villa and doing the 21st century equivalent of raising crops and tending a flock. But, no, Excelsior! has a way, despite years of dormancy, of returning with a vengeance.
Now, again, one might think this feeling of treading water might inaugurate some grand depression, but no. Why? Well, to tell you the truth, I’m exaggerating. By any other standard, I am not treading water. Anyone familiar with my family life, my various blogs, my community activities and, yes, even my day job, could convincingly argue I am not treading water. You see, it is the pre-eminence of these activities – particularly my children’s lives and my writing (i.e., “published” writing) life being on the edge of the next level – that causes me to let go of this decades-old desire.
In the end it’s a trade-off. Will I sacrifice the all for the one, or the one for the all? As the fella who recently commented on my “renaissance man” lifestyle can attest, for me the one never beats the all.
Which leads to our last question: Can one ever again dream with conviction? Yes! Yes! Yes! A thousand times, “Yes!” For this new-found life reinforces what I have always lived for. It has given me that Clint Eastwood squinty-eyed determination to achieve milestones with even greater celerity. It’s like a fog has lifted from the maze of everyday living to reveal the one true path (or, as always, in my case, the glory of the cascading paths).
So I step forward from this day on knowing I have the courage to “let it go” and march with confidence onto the triumphs that lie ahead.
Care to join me?