Begin with the End in Mind

This is not mine. This is from an Urban Samurai member who has contributed so often, so thoughtfully, and so honestly, I feel like I now know her. She writes a blog called Lonestar Bushido. A link is at the bottom of this. And this is great. It was long and I trimmed it a bit, but didn’t change a word.

Here it is:

It starts with death.

It has to. You don’t put your feet on this path and walk it without putting a
sword through the heart of everything you are. You can’t.

You can try, of course. Memorize facts, dress in silly clothes, spout quotes and aphorisms all you like, and you might come off as knowledgeable, even virtuous to some. Ultimately, though, it’s like studying a road map and thinking you know what life is like on the ground. You’re only deluding yourself until you’ve traveled the road and seen, heard, felt the journey for yourself.

To know it, you have to live it, and in the case of this Way, to live it you first have to die.

I remember navigating an obstacle course a number of years ago as part of a training exercise in which I was engaged. The obstacles themselves were simplistic and easily navigated. However, I was mortified. It wasn’t a fear of dying. The water was shallow, the ground well padded and not too far away, and the danger all very much simulated. While I could have technically died there, I was probably at more risk on the jungle gym out at recess when I was a kid.

What I remember most vividly, however, is being terrified of breaking my ankle.

I have a weak right ankle, and it has given me pure hell most of my life. Twisted, turned, torn, cracked, and maybe broken once or twice, it has seen its fair share of abuse, and it occasionally rewards the many years of ill treatment by refusing to follow my brain’s orders. I had already had trouble with Satan Foot that morning, and even my boots weren’t helping. I knew, however, that bad ankle problems could jeopardize my future doing what I was doing. So while I worked my way across the obstacle course, my mind was consumed by the singular fear that I would trip, fall, or otherwise provoke the wrath of my ankle, leading to an injury that would deny me what I had worked so hard to achieve.

I performed miserably on the course for this reason alone. Fear. Fear, specifically, of losing something that had defined my every effort for some time and which I wanted more than anything else. Fear that I would lose it and have to keep on living without it.

In the end, while I didn’t hurt my ankle on the obstacle course, I ended up losing that opportunity later for another reason entirely, one that had nothing to do with my foot or anything else I could reasonably control…so in the end I still had to learn to live without it, whether I hurt myself on the course or not.

These days, I’m facing a similar fear — will something terrible occur that takes something precious from me? And what — and who — will I be if I lose it?

This is why I know I haven’t died. It’s also why I know I should. Have to.


If I am to be of any use to anyone, in any way, I have to put an end to this. To me. To all the baggage I carry and the rot that lingers around me.

You may be thinking, Oh, so what are you going to do? Sell your stuff, dump your family and friends, and go be a hermit or a circus clown?

None of that would solve the problem, though. In fact, it would only make matters worse, because no matter how far you run from the Furies that pursue you, the one person you can never outrun and never fool is yourself.

No, what this takes is identifying what I’m afraid of losing, what I’m afraid of finding — and face those things.

I will lose the dream I’ve been gambling on. I will turn from what I’ve been doing for the last twelve years and do something new. I will fail to be what I should have been. I will find I have become what I always feared I would be. It will happen, has happened, is happening. That fragile shape called me, however I choose to define it, is shattered by this. It ceases to be. No struggling can change that. No hopes, no prayers, no fervent wishes to the contrary, and all I can do in this case is accept it or continue to wallow in it mournfully, making a shameful fool of myself.

This being the case, I choose to end it.

In this instant, I choose death. Here and now, I drive the blade into the self that was. With the me that was perishes the hope and the fear, the joy and the sorrow, the attachment and the reliance upon all those things that were. In this instant, I am reborn, reincarnated into this very body to live again and learn from the mistakes of the past.

I die, and I live. Here. Now. Always.

It is finished.

And it has begun.

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