We all have times in our lives when we are called to do something we never would have chosen, some great turning or milestone that comes to us as a fact of life, like the passing of a loved one or an abrupt end to a job, or some other trial that throws us so hard we have to scramble to make it through. In the mythic realms these are called ordeals, and they are the transformers of life. As you go through them, it becomes a marked inflection on your path as you are changed.

What’s not said often is that the ultimate effort and judgement of your success or failure is self-determined. What you decide this event is about and how you handle yourself going through it are choices you make. The assessment you yourself generate is more important than anyone else’s in determining your future, in terms of both development and resilience. Ordeals, in fact, are not only great challenges, they are frameworks you can use to become your best self.

The sculpture above is a beautiful expression by Zenos Frudakis (ZenosFrudakis.com/freedom-sculpture/), Freedom. Frudakis says on his website, “This sculpture is about the struggle for achievement of freedom through the creative process.” This is among the highest uses of an ordeal, to actually break free, to experience freedom in the midst of the challenge.

“The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.” – Unknown
– Unknown