It was November 2010. Maybe it was a dark and stormy night, I don’t recall. But I was going through a dark night of the soul, that’s for sure.
You know, a proper dark night of the soul, when you feel your chest being crushed under the weight of so many dying dreams that nothing can offer even a bit of comfort.
When the usual hack of, “Well, others have lost empires,” doesn’t help at all.
That’s when I found out about NaNoWriMo. I found out that I could self-publish stories. On Amazon. And sell those stories to people for money, which I could then use to purchase various goods that are needed for one’s survival.
I thought it to be the best thing ever, and so I dropped out of college and started punching those damn keys.
There were a couple of things that I hadn’t thought through though:
I had never written a novel.
I had never written a novel in English.
I had no idea what it took to actually self-publish a book.
I had no one to sell the damn thing to.
But, as I’m so fond of saying, we sometimes need a lot of courage to do something. Other times, we just need to be so dumb that we have no idea what we’re getting ourselves into.
One day, the French philosopher Denis Diderot came into possession of a beautiful scarlet dressing gown. He spent a long and silent time admiring its splendor.
And the more he analyzed the fabric, the more he understood that all his other possessions paled in comparison to this new dressing gown. This feeling became so uncomfortable that Diderot soon replaced all his furniture with more expensive options. He bought a new golden clock, a bronze sculpture, a console table, and more art pieces.
Crippled by debt, Diderot understood that he had forfeited his soul to an object of worship he couldn’t properly understand, “I was the absolute master of my old robe. I have become the slave of the new one.”
While this story may seem ridiculous, we often find ourselves worshiping whatever feeds our ego.
During the Roman Republic the river Rubicon acted as a sort of frontier line between the Roman province of Cisalpine Gaul to the northeast and Italy proper, controlled directly by Rome, to the south.
In 49 BC, perhaps on January 10, Julius Caesar led a single legion, Legio XIII Gemina, south over the Rubicon from Cisalpine Gaul into Italy. In doing so, he deliberately broke the law limiting his imperium, his authority to control his army.
As he led his army across the Rubicon river into Central Italy, Julius Caesar is credited to having said the following words, “Alea iacta est”.