This One Ancient Line Contains The Key To a Life Of Joy, Purpose, and Meaning

Craig Stanland
3 min readMar 28

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

Joseph Campbell

One of man’s greatest fears is to die with regret.

Regret is as expansive as his own potential and directly proportional to the amount of potential he leaves unfulfilled.

Essentially, how much of himself is he willing to leave unexplored, or as Socrates said, “unexamined?

Regret wears many masks, and they’re rooted in his fears.

  • He fears it’s too late.
  • He fears dying with his gift inside him.
  • He fears his unexplored and unlived life.
  • He fears his last words being, “If only I…”
  • He fears knowing he had more to give but was too afraid to try.
  • He fears never experiencing inner peace and emotional freedom.
  • He fears the moment he realizes playing safe and small served his fear, not his soul.
  • He fears fully understanding what’s essential in life only as his last breath leaves his body.
  • He fears the moment he’s forced to reconcile the balance sheet of his life and realize that,

“I wish I…” far outweighs the “I’m grateful I…”

  • He fears bearing witness to the full potential within himself and not having the courage to step into it.
  • He fears he will have sacrificed his unlived life and full potential for a life he thought he wanted because others told him what to want.
  • He fears the moment he understands that all of his fears were unfounded. He bought them at face value without ever testing them. Without ever asking,

“Is this true?”

  • He fears the day he looks in the mirror and sees the man others told him to be. While the man he longs to be stares back at him from behind resigned eyes.

All these fears, all this weight.

It’s enough to keep him stuck in the mundanity of his status quo.

Craig Stanland

I write about my journey from corporate success to federal prison and finding joy, mission, meaning, and fulfillment beyond professional and financial success.