There are certain experiences in life that seem to resonate as “truth”. In thinking back on my past year, there is one lesson that rises above all others and that I have found to be a truism. It is this: Every desire of value that you have in life, if pursued, has a price tag.
Valuable things cost a lot. If we want something of little value–say a magazine, we will have very little cost. If we want something of greater value–say to purchase an engagement ring with a diamond setting, we will have to pay considerably more, as the ring has greater value. If we want something of still greater value–like a large desire fulfilled–say a major life change or to manifest a large scale dream, business, desired success or vision, then we will have to pay significantly more. The larger your dream, the greater the happiness associated, the greater the value. The more the value, the more we must pay.
Sometimes cost comes in way of money spent. Money is a symbol of energy–the energy of labor. We work to amass this paper, which is merely a physical symbol, so that we can spend it and gain value (typically value others have labored or will labor to produce).
Other times, cost may come in the form of sacrifice. Life has a way of offering terrible choices when we desire change. Want this really great thing in your life? Then you must give up this other thing you value or be willing to go with out, is a familiar experience to those who have the courage and will to act upon their desires.
This phenomenon can also be described as “Push-back in equal measure”. Physics tells us that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. With this in mind, the more energy we expend, that we utilize, that we put outward in the fulfilling of our desires, the more push-back we will receive.
Joseph Campbell, famed mythologist, sees this pattern in the Hero Journey, or what is often termed as the “road of trials”. Every hero story is about a quest for a treasure, achieving of which, will fill some sort of hole in the hero’s or community’s respective lives. This entire journey is largely about overcoming obstacles and changing in the process as a result.
So, knowing that if we pursue something, that obstacles begin to line up with our path, what enables us to get out of bed in the morning? In 2 words: passion and meaning.
If we inwardly pine for something, if it means something to us, if we have a deep sense of longing, if we have a great need to fulfill in our lives and a terrific desire to accomplish it, we can usually weather the inevitable storms of push-back. I say usually here, as some heroes do fall in their pursuits. Not every journey ends in success. However, sometimes the value we receive in such failure is a deeper value than what we initially sought. sometimes failure has a way of shifting our perspectives, of teaching us profound lessons and of changing us for the better–in bringing about greater maturity and perspective.
Every hero has their moment of terrible doubt and fear, when they feel that they can go no further, that all is lost. They are in despair and there seems there is not light and no promise of light. Campbell refers to this moment as the belly of the beast . The hero is being broken down and nature tells us that in order to create something new, something first must break or die away. Their old self dies (or their previous perspective or sense of self) and the new self is born. The belly of the beast serves as a crucible. The result of this new birth is that the individual who emerges is typically stronger, wiser and more able to accomplish their goals than before.
It is a trial by fire I refer to. This fire tests our will, our abilities and our willingness to persevere.
Trial by fire also has a way of burning us, as all intense experiences do. A burn leaves a mark. If you go through the fire, you are going to change. Like a cauldron or crucible, melting down metal into a liquid brew, so you will change. You will transform.
That change is typically very uncomfortable. Change is often hard.
However, if we can keep putting one foot in front of the other, we just might reach our desired finish line or goal. Trials are a process of paying for our desire, paying for our potential accomplishment–the accomplishment of our goals, desires, visions, dreams and hopes.
The childrens’ tale of The Pied Piper teaches us that we must pay the piper. Every experience in life, of any value, will ask for its fee.
Jim Hart is the founder and Rektor of The International Theatre Academy Norway and creator of The Hart Technique.