There is a story about Alexander the Great that goes as follows:
One night, during a campaign, struggling to sleep, Alexander left his tent to walk around the camp. As he made his way through, he came across a soldier asleep on guard duty – the penalty for which was instant death.
As Alexander approached, the waking soldier recognized him, immediately fearing for his life.
“Do you know what the penalty is for falling asleep on guard duty?” asked the general.
“Yes sir,” responded the soldier in a shaky voice.
“Soldier, what’s your name?”
Repeating the question, Alexander the Great said, “What is your name?”
“My name is Alexander, sir.”
Again, more loudly this time, the general demanded, “What is your name?”
“My name is Alexander, sir,” the soldier meekly answered.
Looking the young man straight in the eye, Alexander the Great said, “Soldier, either change your ways or change your name.”
I suppose this story returns to mind often because at some point I experienced some conviction and some motivation by it, and some days I really need some more of that stuff, you know what I mean? I seem to fall asleep while on guard too often, distraction (and perhaps a wee-bit-o’ laziness) takes command of my ways.
I have a goal of writing. Not the great american novel thing, but I have a lot of ideas I wish to deepen through essay and poetry. Some days I feel like a attacking that goal like a monster soldier swinging a battle-axe, but then I end up instead, poking at it with a drink umbrella – oh well…
So maybe here, facing Alexander the Great as I am, I should change both my ways and my name. We live up or down to the identity we have for ourselves, the story we tell about “me”. So perhaps a new story is in order, one that is neither a sword swinging maniac, nor a barstool warmer. It must still be me, but also someone to become.
So meet if you will, S.E. Roon – poet, essayist, trail-walker, wonder-junkie.