Iroh’s question to his nephew, “Who are you, and what do you want?” has been ringing in my mind a lot lately. This was a pivotal moment for the young prince, as he finally questioned everything that he was led to believe. For a while after this point it seemed like he had completely changed, and rejected what he had been pushing to accomplish, but when the chance came to return to his old ways, he took it. When he did finally understand, accept, and act on his true purpose, he caught up to his renegade uncle, whom he had betrayed, and began to beg for forgiveness. Iroh, for his part, interrupted his nephew’s apology to passionately embrace him, with tears running down his face.
“How can you forgive me so easily? I thought you would be furious with me!” Zuko said.
“I was never angry with you.” Iroh began, “I was sad, because I was afraid you lost your way.”
“I did lose my way.” Zuko conceded.
“But you found it again. And you did it by yourself.”
All humans are influenced by the people they are surrounded by growing up; it isn’t until we get older that we figure out whether or not those influences are accurate to who we are at our cores. If we do find that those influences do not mesh with who we truly are, either in whole or in part, it’s up to us to set out on our own hero’s journey to break away from those mental constraints and determine our own destiny. What I’m discovering, even as I write this, is not the FACT that this journey is meandering, layered, and multi-faceted – I already knew that when I started some years ago – what I’m discovering is the FEELING of experiencing that truth first-hand. What I am going through cannot be quantified in words, not because I don’t have the vocabulary necessary to convey the thoughts inherent to the concept, but because at some level words fail.
There is an intangible aspect to living that all of the most successful people can attest to. From Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill and Zig Ziglar to Peter Sage, Owen Cook, and Gary Vaynerchuk, the people who not only have the most, but are DOING the most, are able to tap into an ephemeral quality of living that many of us, including myself, tend to overlook. It’s easy for strong-willed, determined, action-oriented people to set a goal and go driving forward, learning the techniques and skills needed to MAKE things happen, instead of keeping our minds open to the various ways life tends to work with us when we ALLOW things to happen. However, this time I am NOT going to beat myself up and carry a load of personal guilt and shame about it. Instead, I’m going to show gratitude to the gods for the reminder, as well as the deeper understanding I’ve felt, and simply move forward.
I believe that Iroh’s personal philosophy can be best summed up in the stoic expression, “Amor fati” which translates roughly as “a love of fate”, and Iroh is definitely a stoic. Stoic philosophy is not, as people often think, one of staunch abstinence from life’s enjoyment; rather, it is a disciplined approach to life that enables a person to live with freedom and grace. It’s a philosophy by which we live with a constant focus on the singular thing that we can control in an unpredictable world, namely, how we REACT when things don’t go as we wanted them to. It’s a way of thinking that allows us the flexibility to include new thoughts and ideas into our worldview, while maintaining the grounding to know who we are, what we want, and to pursue it with steady, consistent dedication, without becoming either too passively weak, or too rigidly dogmatic. Balanced…as all things should be. There is a LOT here for me to unpack, and I’ll continue to do so; one blog at a time, one post at a time, one video at a time, one PERSON at a time.
I forgot that this brand started out as a labor of love. I forgot that I partnered with WFG as a means to getting into a better position to help other people. Without realizing it I made everything I did about soothing a deep, emotional ache for some personal failing that I had simply to let go of. It seems that the Elixir to be obtained in this round through the Apotheosis is just that: Let go.
To stay with my emotions, to feel the shame, and release it. To accept the things I cannot control and have faith that, through the process of living, I will discover a great power that I can use to help others, for their sake, not mine. To approach adversity with humility and gratitude, and to pay that forward; not for the sake of a personal reward, but to leave the world a better place than I found it, which is the only way to attain the Ultimate Boon.