Imagine, one day you’re king and the next day you’re not. Literally. That’s the story of Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, who was made King of Naples and Spain, only to be forced to flee in exile after the reversal of his family’s destiny. Napoleon was sent to an island prison, but Joseph had to move to New Jersey, where suddenly he was just another regular person – rich, sure, but far from royalty. The same went for Achille Murat, the son of Napoleon’s brother-in-law. Once the heir-in-waiting for the kingdom of Napoli, he ended up living in the swampland of Florida, lording only over some property he called Lipona, an anagram of the kingdom he had lost. He dreamed of leading armies in Italy, but ended up, as one legend has it, the postmaster of Tallahassee.
Banished to New Jersey and Florida. Someone in the 19th century knew how to levy punishment. All kidding aside, these stories are almost real-life versions of the lyrics to the Coldplay hit, Viva La Vida:
I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning, I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own
Today we are on high, tomorrow can bring us down low… and the day after, lower than we even believed possible. That’s life. It humbles us. It surprises us. It is not inclined to show mercy – or care about our precious dreams.
That’s why we must be prepared: anticipation of the twists and turns of fate and be ready to love whatever that fate may be. These are not just principles to abide, they are tools to deploy in the forging of our inner-self. This mindset allows us to endure and survive anything.
The vagaries of life are why we must be careful of ego (it is the enemy, after all); careful of anything that makes us think what we have right now is actually ours, or that it says anything about us as people. Because if we allow the presence of the things we have and hold dear to define us, their untimely absence will define us doubly so.
Value yourself and be unique!
By Brian Nadon