One of the “amazing” perks of Survival Mode is that always present Sword of Damocles hanging over your head. No matter how good things are finally going, no matter how hard you fight, there’s always that one thing that reminds you that you’re not doing fine at all. You will only be good enough once you have solved that one big problem. That might be a bill that you can’t pay, a roadblock that keeps standing in front of you or a person you owe who knows what. The Sword of Damocles is no one size fits all, but a personal manifestation in your life. No matter how hard you try, your success is measured by solving your Sword of Damocles and every single time you dare to think that things are finally going good and you’re doing better, the sword above your head drops a few centimetres, telling you that your hope is false. The best thing? Every time the sword drops you loose faith. The positive attitude you had about your growth so far gets smashed into a million pieces.
The Sword of Damocles in literature
When Cicero, the famous Roman orator, studied up on old Sicilian literature, he came across a story that he wanted to tell his pupils. He wrote the story into a parable that we still know today: the Sword of Damocles.
The parable talks about the Sicilian king Dionysus II. He ruled his kingdom with iron fist and was able to make it flourish. Being a dictator came with a lot of nice perks and wealth, but it also brought the threat of people wanting to murder you every single moment of every day. Dionysus made a lot of enemies over the years. When a court flatterer, Damocles, couldn’t stop talking about how amazing Dionysus’ life must be, Dionysus offered him an evening in his footsteps. He gave Damocles a golden throne to sit on and a group of servants to serve his every need. Damocles enjoyed a few hours of ‘perfect’ court life, getting everything he wanted, until he noticed the sword above his head, hanging on nothing more than a horse hair. It didn’t matter how good things were going for Damocles, from that moment on, he couldn’t enjoy any of it anymore.
The message behind the parable
This parable carries an important message that every single one of us will probably understand. No matter how good things are, when that sword bungles above you, you will be filled with anxiety and feelings of constant downfall because you never know when the sword is going to drop.
Now imagine someone in Survival Mode. Life is already hard as it is. You are drowning in the ocean around you, not knowing how to get to shore. On top of that, the Sword of Damocles is hanging above you, cornering you from every angle. There’s no way down or up. Very typically is that when you finally reach shore, the sword is starting to drop. No rest for the wicked. You fought the ocean that almost drowned you, but it’s not over yet. Now the sword is there to fight you. For many people, this is the last straw. Even though success is right in front of you, the Sword of Damocles is what makes you give up everything and let the ocean take you again.
Hoping the horse hair won’t break
Sometimes you wonder why that sword can’t stay up a little while longer. At least until you finally reach the success you need to solve that forsaken sword. A little while longer… you only need a little more time. Until the sword started dropping
again, you were on your way towards a better a future that could solve both Survival Mode AND the Sword of Damocles. Now, you’re smashed onto the ground again, broken into a million pieces. Again… as if Survival Mode wasn’t terrible enough to go through.
Holding on with a sword above your head
Honestly, at this moment I haven’t met anyone yet who was able to hang on when the sword started to drop right after climbing out of Survival Mode. Survival Mode asks everything from you. You’ve lost everything, hit rock bottom hard and kept swimming in the oceanic void surrounding you until your legs almost gave out. The sword dropping right after that swimfight, is for many enough to truly give up.
I honestly hope that there is a way to keep holding on, because drifting back into the ocean with a broken down mental state is just not an option. That would be key to really drown this time around, breaking down everything you have build up in the past months.
The Sword of Damocles drops at the right time
I truly believe that the sword has a good reason of dropping the moment it does:
- The sword is a sign of self-fulfilment. The sword has its origin in yourself somewhere. Once in the past, the sword was created by your own hands, so it could linger on top of you and drop at the right moment to teach you the best lessons.
- There’s often another human at the other side of the sword, hanging it for you with their own desperation. Just like the parable tells us: Dionysus had hung the sword to show Damocles how desperate he was. How hard our own problems are, it’s important to notice the desperation behind the sword as well… the other human.
- The sword of Damocles is there to learn you an important life lesson. For me it feels like the guard of the gate to the next chapter in my life. I once heard someone say that we have gate keepers that test you at the end of each life chapter. Their test is designed to see if you’re truly ready for the next part of your life. The sword might be one of those gate keepers. It’s strong enough to make you fail if you’re not ready for the next chapter yet, but can also be the most beautiful test for those who are ready.
See you on the other side
Writing this blog post was exactly what I needed. This morning I felt like the ocean was taking me away from the shore again, but letting all feelings in helps my intuition translate what is happening. I can’t solve my Sword of Damocles yet, I truly wish I could, with all my heart, but it’s not in the cards yet. But what I can do is choose to not let it drown me again. I can continue standing up the way I have been doing, keep crawling onto the shore that I reached because of hard work and devotement and get into that forsaken new chapter in my life. This morning, my sword was the one thing that could bring me under again. After writing this all down, it’s the thing I want to fight for. It’s time to take the handle of the sword in my hand and let it point in the other direction.
I take the sword you pointed at me and make it my companion in life.
Thank you for solving the threat and life lesson this sword brought me and for giving it to me now as my soul-tool to create the next chapter in the book that is my life.
With this I manifest myself succeeding the test of the guardians of the next chapter and the necessary tools to make the sword my new companion.