Caesar taught us about the importance of taking the next step

In life with MS, following through is just as important as starting out

Benjamin Hofmeister avatar

by Benjamin Hofmeister |

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Last month, I told you that while I’m not a psychologist, I’m fascinated by the subject. I should probably make a list of things I don’t do but still find interesting. One of those professions we can add to the list is historian.

I enjoy reading and learning about past events, but I can’t claim to be even an amateur historian. If any actual historians are reading this, I apologize in advance.

A historical event I’ve been reading about recently is Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon River. By leading his army from the Roman province of Gaul across to Italy, he set in motion a war that led to Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. Since his provincial army was forbidden by law from entering Italy, Caesar had knowingly committed treason by crossing the Rubicon and knew there was no going back.

Unbeknownst to him at the time, that act would lead to the creation of a lasting and popular metaphor. “Crossing the Rubicon” has come to mean reaching a point of no return, or perhaps taking a first step toward a goal. Everyone knows how important taking a first step is. But those of us with a chronic disease like multiple sclerosis (MS) have probably heard about it more frequently than others. Perhaps that’s because we have to set so many goals.

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There’s no denying that taking the first step is important in life with MS. Whether it’s deciding to start eating better or exercising to ease your MS symptoms, nothing matters unless you take action. I wonder, though, if taking the second step isn’t just as important as taking the first. Having the motivation to begin something is crucial, but being motivated to continue seems equally important.

Had Caesar turned back without crossing the Rubicon, we probably wouldn’t have heard of the incident. We know about it only because he kept going until he realized his goal. My self-care goals might seem a little less lofty than building an empire, but the point is that taking additional steps after the first one is so important.

The Rubicon isn’t very big, but I’ll bet it looked enormous to Caesar at the time. To outside observers, your initial barriers — your first steps — might not seem that significant, either. A big part of self-care and self-advocacy is about recognizing that the next steps are as important as the first ones.

When Caesar decided to cross the Rubicon, he quoted a line from a play, remarking, “let the die be cast.” He meant that things were now in motion and couldn’t be stopped. I’d like to think that he was aware that to be successful, his actions had to go beyond the first step.

The journey with multiple sclerosis has a lot of steps on a lot of different paths. Taking the first step on any new path is important, but taking the second is often more so.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Trish Nafots avatar

Trish Nafots

He also found out the hard way, that like those of us who become disabled.... your friends may stab you in the heart.

Tom A avatar

Tom A

Hello Ben- Was Caesar a personality that wanted to know what the bad facts might be first, or did he want to blow by those annoyances to get to the prize? I didn’t do much general history learning. I would say with MS, one of the first things to become aware of is that you need to become aware of something. How that goes will greatly influence your direction.


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