Well, we’re glad those annoyances in the last part are over!
But, the stage is now set for the final ordeal. Here everything comes together as you begin your sprint toward the goal. This leads to the climax, that final facing of the foe within and without, the most dangerous part of our journey.
Will you succeed? The jury is still out on that one.
Because everything you’ve learned up until this point must now be employed.
Did you train hard enough, wise enough, to summit that peak? Whatever your peak may be. Whether it’s running in that marathon, finishing the book, going to court to fight for the moral victory, saying yes to the marriage ordeal, saving the world from aliens (okay, so that may be a bit far-fetched, but being deployed into a war zone gets you the same thing).
Whatever you’ve been shooting for lies straight in front of you. And while you’ve dealt with internal demons, this brings any remnants of those full to the fore.
But you’ve learned so much through this journey, no? You’ve learned where your Achilles’ heel lies. Who your friends are (and not!). Have allies at your back. You’ve persisted in ploughing forward against all odds.
And that is success. In and of itself. That you persisted is actually a great success—only a small percentage will. Perseverance is a noble thing.
If we were in an action film, the final battle has begun.
And with it, a sacrifice arises. In the very overcoming of fears in order to reach your goal, there will be something you must give up. A part of yourself.
Again, if we were in say, Gladiator, you would literally die. The hero of the story often does, physically anyway. But more to the point, there is almost always a metaphorical death.
You give up alcohol for good, and say good bye to that part of yourself. You say yes to the proposal, giving up some independence. You see the crevasse in front of you where you failed at your last summit attempt. And you let go of your fear. You face whatever beast within you that came up through the earlier ordeals, and which you mastered, at least in essence, when you went into the dark night of the soul. Even if this is a belief that no longer serves you (and these can be the most difficult!).
Sacrifice comes from the Latin, and means, “making holy.” By giving up something, your compassion grows in the vacated space, and you have something of yourself to give back (we’ll get to that one later!).
Funny thing about sacrifice though, it brings with it resurrection. In the literal death of a hero in stories, he lives on. In the Gladiator example above, his sacrifice in the ultimate battle saves Rome.
Okay, so we’re not about the bludgeoning of bad guys with axes (although that might actually be your lot!). Most of us, though, won’t be in any literal hand-to-hand combat (thank god!). But all great stories—all of them, including yours—have the element of sacrifice in them, and then a resurrection of something better within you, like the phoenix rising to the sun.
Of course, during the actual doing of whatever it is you’re doing, you don’t have the time to consider all these implications. You’re busy fighting that last battle, whatever it may be.
This is the point at which you’re most conscious. You’re at your own peak. This is the final exam, and you are ready.
Fight on! You can do this! Run, create, climb. Let go of all that was holding you back, and use the pure energy that arises.
I always loved Joseph Campbell’s take on what he called the great Western truth: “That each of us is a completely unique creature and that, if we are ever to give any gift to the world, it will have to come out of our own experience and fulfillment of our own potentialities, not someone else’s.”
From this will come your gift to the world. If you survive or not!