Taking a Risk with Ariadne

Taking a Risk with Ariadne


The Story (in case you don’t know it):

This is really supposed to be the story of Theseus, but Ariadne is an important part of his tale. He is actually quite the bastard! Here’s why...or at least one of the reasons.

On the island of Crete, king Minos had a Minotaur–half man, half bull.  How that happened is another story and it’s a doozy. Anyway, the Minotaur had to be fed, and in this particular case the beast was fed live kids from Athens, 7 young men and 7 young women, chosen by lot. On this particular occasion, the king’s son, Theseus, had decided he was going to stop this madness and threw his own name onto the list. Dad was none too happy, but the boy went anyway.

When the boat with all the kids arrived, Ariadne, the daughter of the king, saw the prince and was smitten, big time. Being in the throes of puberty, she became obsessed and decided to help Theseus defeat the Minotaur against her dad’s rules. She made Theseus promise to take her to Athens and marry her in exchange for a sword and some thread. He said, “sure!”

He used the thread to get out of the labyrinth that the Minotaur was kept in, and the sword to kill the beast. Done! Once out of danger, the prince, Ariadne, and his friends escaped home back to Athens. Happy ending, right? Nope.

On the way, Theseus and crew decided to stop off on an island to rest. Ariadne got off the boat and took a nap. While she was sleeping, the A-hole prince got everyone back aboard and left her on the island. W. T. F.?

She woke up and realized she was alone. She ran to the top of the cliffs and saw the sails going away and called out in vain. She ran back down to the beach, her dress swirling in the surf around her legs as she cried out to the man who was supposed to save her from her father and his weird stuff, like the Minotaur. She cried and screamed into the wind. She was crushed. The love of her young life abandoned her. The worst ghosting of all time–and you thought it was a modern thing.

As Ariadne wept on the shore, realizing that she was utterly alone and she could not go back home because she had betrayed her father, some one actually noticed her. It was none other than the god of the party, Dionysus. He took Ariadne to Olympus, married her, and gave her a golden diadem. When she died, he made her a constellation in the sky. She ended up living her best life, and her legacy is still visible today.

So What?

One of the things I clearly remember from being a teenager is the sense that even the smallest things were earth shattering. I’ll say this much, youth makes you passionate. As an adult, I still relish in those things that make me passionate, though I’m able to approach them with much more temperance these days (thank heavens). Nevertheless, when passion calls, she often asks us to take a risk. Sometimes it’s a light risk: a new hair color or an outfit that is clearly not your normal style. Here you’re taking a small risk. You might get dreaded the “Wow…that’s…different. Are you ok?” response. Harumph.

Occasionally, it’s a giant risk. These are the ones that ask to us betray the way we’ve always done things and perhaps even risk our comfort, our confidence, and big change. The biggest risk is going into the unknown, trusting a hot young idea, if not a hot guy. We can make plans and figure out how to move forward all methodical like: making business plans on spreadsheets, getting advice from professionals, networking till the cows come home. But, at the end of the day, if you take that risk, you will likely end up crying on the shoreline, shouting to your beloved and your plans for an amazing future as they disappear over the horizon. You will feel alone, abandoned, and generally crappy all around. The best-laid plans with the hottest ideas will never turn out the way it did on the spreadsheet. That’s OK. Risking everything allows to you gain even more–no risk, no glory.

While you are weeping and watching the sails of what you thought was your ride into an amaze-balls life with a shiny new Tesla in your driveway, something else is brewing. The key is to stay on the shore, watching, waiting, screaming, crying, and maybe lighting fire for yourself. If you leave and take another nap, or go back home, you will lose another future that you did even dare to dream. To make big gains, you have to take big risks and you have to mourn the loss of your old life. Cry. Scream. Be terrified and uncomfortable. That’s the only time the gods come for you. Don’t give up. Do what you need to do to survive, but don’t give up. Giving up is hiding from the gods, running away from your place on Olympus, and missing the chance to be a guiding star for the next young woman who decides to risk it all for greatness.

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