Once upon a time, in real life, there was a guy named William Penn.
William was a Quaker and also a nobleman, which led to a lot of conflicts in his personal values. As you may know, Quakers are committed pacifists (they oppose war, violence, and militarism). A symbolic conflict for him was that he was supposed to wear a sword as a part of his uniform for formal events. He wanted to honour the culture he was a part of while simultaneously honouring his personal value system.
He sought guidance from a Quaker elder who gave him some advice that put his heart at ease. He told William that he should simply “Wear the sword until you can’t.”
I love this parable because it can be applied to essentially every area of our lives whenever we’re feeling a sense of conflict or anxiety.
You Wear The Sword Until You Can’t
How many times have you been in early-stage relationships where you weren’t sure if you liked the person enough to continue dating them, while living in a sort of testing-each-other-out limbo? You wear the sword until you can’t. When your certainty around not being a fit with them outweighs your curiosity, then you end the relationship and go about your separate ways.
Or maybe you’ve been in a long-term relationship or marriage where you found yourself increasingly dissatisfied with the relationship. You don’t run at the first sign of uncertainty (‘Oh, this sword is a little heavy on my side…’) but rather when the weight, heaviness, and dissatisfaction of the relationship is wearing on you so much that it’s lowering your quality of life and you’ve done everything you can to try and remedy the situation. When the sword is starting to chafe through your skin and make you bleed, you take it off.
Or maybe you’ve discovered that the career path that you’ve committed to (because you were once entirely enthralled by the idea/reality of it) is no longer lighting you up. Not only is it not making you light up, but it’s making you miserable. It’s negatively impacting your sleep, your health, and your ability to focus. You wear the sword until you can’t. If it’s making your life a living hell, then you’re allowed to set the sword down and pick up something new.
We are not static, unchanging beings. Everything about the world is in a constant state of change, and to assume that we are any different is just the grasping of our ego, trying to make us feel special.
There will come a time in your life when things that once felt familiar, and lovely, and comfortable will no longer feel that way. Circumstances change. You change. And you’re allowed to change.
Whatever area of your life your mind is automatically applying this concept to, trust that you are allowed to put the sword down.
You are allowed to choose a new way.
You wouldn’t be a human being if you didn’t change your mind once in a while. And besides, you aren’t changing your mind. You were honouring yourself in that moment when you made your decision weeks/months/years ago, and now you are simply honouring yourself in this new moment, in order to serve this new version of you.
Dedicated to your success,