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Thursday, 23 January 2020

The Point of No Return

Recently, a Possibly Maybe expressed her hesitance to visit me. I replied: "It’s okay as we haven't crossed the point of no return yet". Later, I wondered about the validity and the origin of that phrase. Most of the times, there is no point of no return in our lives. You can almost always come back at your earlier deeds, words or intentions. It's called progressive insight (eg, regret, remorse, or new information).

The Point of No Return is an aviation term for describing the moment when a WW2 pilot no longer had enough fuel to return the aircraft to its base (eg, Wiki). Grammarist: "The first use of the phrase point of no return in an idiomatic way occurred in the novel Point of No Return published by John P. Marquand in 1947. A Broadway play followed in 1951, aiding the spread of the idiom into general use."

In business economics, the point of no return for an asset (eg, sales outlet) has arrived when the cost of sales becomes higher than the sales (ie, a negative contribution margin). Similarly, a point of no return arrives when human efforts become inadequate for stopping a certain process (eg, medical treatment of humans or pets). In both cases, the moment arrives that you need to let go.

On 1 January 2020, the Dutch divorce law has changed. This caused a flood of divorce requests in December 2019 in order to claim the old 12 year alimony period. Another flood of divorce requests is expected in January 2020 in order to claim the new 5 year alimony period. The Point of No Return is not always dependent on the amount of "energy" left.

The Point of No Return seems related to stage 5, Acceptance (my blogs), of the five stages of processing grief by Dr. Elisabeth K├╝bler Ross. Human efforts for avoiding a point of no return, will continue in stages (1) denial, (2) anger, (3) bargaining, and (4) depression. At stage 5, we accept and let go.

The English writer and humorist Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) argued in his 2007 fantasy novel Making Money that "you get a wonderful view from the point of no return" (eg, GoodReads). I must agree. There's indeed a moment of full clarity, once you reach a Point of No Return.

Sometimes, it's only with hindsight that you realise that you have crossed a point of no return. A quote from Graham Greene (1904-1991) from his 1966 novel The Comedians: "There is a point of no return, unremarked at the time, in most lives".

“In everybody’s life there’s a point of no return. And in a very few cases, a point where you can’t go forward anymore. And when we reach that point, all we can do is quietly accept the fact. That’s how we survive.” A quote by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami (b. 1949) from his 2002 novel Kafka on the Shore. Note: bold marking in quote by LO.

Point Of Know Return (1977) by Kansas

Your father, he said he needs you 
Your mother, she says she loves you 
Your brothers, they echo your words: 
"How far to the point of know return?" 
"Well, how long?"


Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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