History and The Rubicon

The problem with history is remembering it. Of course, if you remember it you then have to remember it correctly for it to be of any positive value.

There is someone in my family who has a degree in history; in fact there are two people in my family who have degrees in history. They both have a bad habit of editing and embellishing their own histories to a nearly bizarre degree. The effect of this is that when either one of them opens their mouth I can’t help but see a cloud of question marks forming in front of them. There is usually, although not always, an element of truth to what they are saying, and after a lifetime of exposure to extravagant stretches of reality I have learned to discount ninety percent of what either of them say on just about any subject. It’s sad actually, because I think they cheat themselves out of some of life’s
most valuable lessons by failing to accurately remember their own histories, and the lessons therein. They also cheat all those around them, when they fail to relay their experiences accurately.

As a recovering alcoholic I had to learn early in my sobriety the damage I had done to my own life by not remembering my history accurately. While still practicing my disease, which is what some alcoholics call drinking, (and practice is a pretty accurate word because I never did get where I could do it right) I just needed a simple memory test. All I had to do was remember that when I drank one, then two, three … a couple of dozen always followed, accompanied by a lapse of memory about the history lesson just reviewed.

One of the basics to history is that if you don’t remember it, and remember it accurately, you will repeat it. Naturally, we all like to think we are special, don’t we? I did, but a caring sponsor slapped me upside of the head, figuratively, and dissuaded me of that notion quickly. Unique in this world maybe … but special? No! Now I am still an alcoholic, but I’m a recovering alcoholic because someone cared about me enough to make me remember my history accurately. So, how do I apply that to my life today? After all it has been twenty-one years since I took that course.

Today my history reminds me that I should look before I leap. History has shown that my leaping has often led to longing … for things the way they used to be; for do-overs, rewind and re-play. Life just doesn’t work that way. Does that mean that we can know in advance the outcome of every action? Only in math, chemistry and physics; the so-called exact sciences. Sometimes though we are faced with limited choices, with no easy options because of the point in our history, combined with the history of others, at which we have arrived. In world history this situation has come to be known as The Rubicon.

The Rubicon is a river in northern Italy that marked the separation of Italy and Gaul. Roman law decreed that returning generals and their armies had to part company before crossing the Rubicon. If the commanding general did not surrender his command before crossing the river, it was considered an act of treason and war against Rome. Even more important was the fact that there was no forgiveness once the Rubicon had
been crossed; no “Whoops I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.” There was no running back across the river and saying, “I’m sorry, my mistake. Can we just forget I did that and go back to things the way they were? Huh, please?” When a general crossed the Rubicon as a general he was … committed.

The nature of the river itself, which was to change course with regularity every time there was a heavy rain, provided no excuse for re-consideration. Just because the river was not now where it was when the general left on his expedition of conquest several years earlier made no difference. The Rubicon was The Rubicon regardless of where it happened to be flowing that year. In 49 BC Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and
as he did he uttered the phrase, “alea iacta est” – the die is cast. We all know, or should know, the eventual outcome of that effort; “Et tu Brute?

Is there anyone in our world; the LGBT … DG world, that has not crossed The Rubicon? Is there anyone in our world who has not had to face the reality of their own history in coming to the decision to wade into the river, knowing what waited on the far side? The act of crossing The Rubicon for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered and dual-gendered is not the tough part. Living or dying with the consequences like Julius Caesar did is the tough part. You cross the river, get a little wet, dry off, grab your sword and shield live with the decision. There is one segment of our community however that can’t pull it off that way.

The true trans-sexual has a crossing that is something akin to crossing where the water is deepest and swiftest. They have to shed their armor and abandon their weapons because trying to cross with those will surely pull them under before they reach the other side. Even if they could get across with weapons and armor intact the weapons would be rusty and the armor definitely wouldn’t fit anymore. Some come out on the other side rejuvenated and ready to take on the imperial city. Some are so exhausted they can go no further. And there are some who ignore the warnings, try to cross with all their armor and weapons and drown before they reach the other side.

Wherever The Rubicon was running when you reached it, however swift it was running when you stepped into it, how muddy the water or how deep, there are others just ahead of you to prove it can be crossed and others behind waiting for you to show them it can be crossed. Just don’t forget … it is The Rubicon. It will be a part of history, yours and the worlds and where it flows today will most likely be different tomorrow.

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