Puppy Training

I got angry last night – properly angry – for the first time in a long time. It was over Star Wars of all things. How ridiculous is that? If anything, after the fact I was more angry with myself for being angry than the cause. It came very fast and hit me before I could circumvent the feeling with rational thought. It surged like pain from the fingertip to brain and I could track its progress like a child watching the lightening after thunder. It was almost comical for the soul to watch my mind do things. The timelord watching their TARDIS break down for literally no reason – a nice analogy I’ve made before, I’ll link it at the bottom.

There’s no other person let down by my state, just me. It feel like I’m looking at a sad puppy who just shat on the carpet. I am both the observer and the puppy. The only way for me to move on from here is clean up the shit and move on and try to train the puppy better to not do it again. Not try – do. Of course, Marcus Aurelius has some words for us, I’m going to write them out here not just for the sake of sharing them but for my own sake for reflection. Philosophy – stoic philosophy – is my Scooby-Snax to train the puppy.

“Enough of this miserable way of life, enough of grumbling and aping! Why are you troubled? What is new in this? What is it that drives you mad? The cause? Then face it. Or rather the material? Then face it. Apart from cause and material there is nothing. But you should know, late though it is, see your relation to the gods also: make yourself simpler, and better. Three years is as good as a hundred in this quest.” Meditations 9.37

If I strip things back, lets remove the TARDIS imagery: we have a figure in a garden; a walled garden in the centre of an endless forest. The walls are hundreds of metres high and tens of metres thick made of a deep jade stone that circle this impenetrable Valhalla. I’m sipping tea in this garden, basking in the sun, paying no mind to storm clouds, I’ve an umbrella. What does your simple space look like, when we strip things back? It’s funny, some may even call that convoluted. Let’s remove all imagery – nothing but endless vastness of consciousness and an observer who witnesses this vastness.

“Who observes this vastness?” – Mooji

“Above all, no agonies, no tensions. Be your own master, and look at things as a man, as a human being, as a citizen, as a moral creature. And here are two of the most immediately useful thoughts you will dip into. First that things cannot touch the mind: they are external and inert; anxieties can only come from your internal judgement. Second, that all these things you see will change almost as you look at them, and then they will be no more. Constantly bring to mind all that you yourself have already seen changed. The universe is change: life is judgement.”Meditations 4.3.4

And to that end, without needing to add anymore words of my own:

“Remove the judgement, and you have removed the thought ‘I am hurt’: remove the thought ‘I am hurt’, and the hurt itself is removed.”Meditations 4.7

Is there much more to say? I have to take ownership of my own feelings, my own unnecessary feelings that I failed to control. I have to move on, knowing the only person who is let down is me. I am grateful that those around me were supportive and allowed me to remove myself from the environment to recharge and reflect. Personally, I think it was a rather successful reflection with the conclusion: I lost my shit over immaterial, indifferent things – actions of strangers.

I’d like to confirm, this incident has nothing to do with Gina Carano as every Star Wars seems to be these days, I disagree with her politics but I’m sure she’s a perfectly reasonable individual. In fact, as stupid as it sounds, this anger arose from the specifics of medicine in the Star Wars lore.

Go ahead, laugh. It’s okay, I’m laughing too.

Z3N0

Here is the link to my previous post, mentioned. Also, for those who want to look further about Mooji, here is the link to his Youtube channel which I recommend for excellent meditation practice:

https://www.youtube.com/user/Moojiji

https://z3n0.com/2021/03/17/bigger-on-the-inside/

Procrastination Nation

I’m in a procrastination nation of my own making. It’s governed by rules of putting things off until tomorrow and the currency is little slithers of dopamine from mobile games. Right now, the country is in turmoil and a civil war is brewing against the establishment. Like all revolutions this one is hard fought and I fully expect the regent governors with the names: “Do it Later”, “Not now”, “Another time”, and “I should watch The Office again” will be summarily executed. The guillotine comes down and Marcus Aurelius is the executioner. A rather poetic image.

“Ask yourself this about each action: ‘How does this sit with me? Shall I regret it?'” Meditations 8.2

Do I regret inaction? Or is inaction a part of being actively passive? Is there a difference between being actively passive and procrastinating? I’m arguing with yes because I don’t feel regret for being so actively passive; for meditation and taking in the world around me, breathing in the new spring air and standing in the sun with a coffee. I regret babbling on about pure shit to a friend on the internet to avoid doing work. Perhaps that’s the difference. One is enriching to the greater benefit, the other isn’t. What’s enriching about sharing a story about being on a date with someone who thought reciting an entire episode of Drag Race would be endearing? I’m not sure how much my friend got out of it.

How much of our activities as human beings procrastinating? For example, X, watches Judge Judy everyday without fail then some days says:

“Well I can’t go for my run now it’s too late.”

The sun is shining, dinner can wait, Judy won’t care – but we mustn’t miss the end(!). Or another example: a person I work with will talk to me about Harry Potter for twenty minutes – knowing full well I don’t care about the story or the characters or what the views of the author are – to avoid a simple task. Another: I made three coffees today to avoid doing work.

I know I’ve spoken before about disagreeing with Marcus about inaction but I was making a different point about enjoying life rather than racing to the end. Procrastination, in this sense is putting of things that need to be done before the end. A fear of failing these things perhaps? What if I go to Goa and hate it, and fail at being happy. What if I fail at the work I’m meant to be doing today? What if? What if?

Enough of what if. Only what is.

“Do or do not, there is no try.” – Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

What are you putting off through fear of failure not because of planning, nor waiting not even being cautious. Fear of failure is procrastinating. I did it all the time with maths homework in Year 9, I’m doing the same with actual work. Sure take your time on a job, make sure it’s done properly, like a good philosophy or a garden shed. But you have to start somewhere, sometime – now is the time. This blog is an example. Its existence an act of revolt against the Procrastination Nation.

“Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were you last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretence.” Meditations 7.69

Don’t Thank Me

Recently I’ve found it more and more difficult to accept thanks for anything that I do. It’s almost as if a thanks is a question of my own virtue, as if saying thank you is to say I was asking for thanks for a good deed done for the common benefit.

“You bought me a coffee how much to do I owe you?” – X
“Nothing. I got myself one too.” – Z
“Thanks but I’d feel better if you let me give you money.” – X
“That’s not necessary.” – Z

And so on and so on.

Have we become so entrenched in a culture of expecting things to be bought and paid for that acts of random virtue or kindness is that alien? This argument, by the way went on for 20 minutes and ended up with me losing and receiving an ok meal deal sandwich and a coke. It’s becoming more and more painful each time.

Why is this? Is this my own virtue being threatened by the perception of lies or the idea that my motives are anything other than mindless goodwill? Is that pride? A prideful arrogance that someone may dare question this new found virtue. Don’t thank me.

Appreciation is different. I think appreciation is an act not verbosity. Is that what I’m looking for? To be appreciated? If so does that make me a hypocrite to ask not to be thanked?

“Thank you for listening to me.” – Y
“Don’t mention it, I’m here for you.” – Z
“Seriously, thank you.” – Y

Lovely, but pointless. I am not moved by the thanks and I would have listened to the person’s story and advised them the best I can regardless. Why? Because I am a stoic on the Path and surely that’s the proper thing to do for the benefit of the whole and within my nature. Is it not in everyone’s best interest?

Live in a thankless world and be good with it. I am. It’s a world of unreciprocated goodness. A world where I can do something for someone and not expect a bad sandwich in return. Not even money as then what does that make me? Someone who must receive in order to give? It’s not like I’m broke nor am I rich in either money or time. I have exactly what I need to help where I can and act virtuously in all I can.

“Thanks for helping, I really am thankful.” – X
“An hour of my time is not like I’m giving you a kidney. If it was a kidney, a beer would probably make up for it.” – Z

Live without thanks. Unless it’s a kidney or a liver or a heart. Even then, let’s settle with some Hop House 13 and move on. You are an individual, your currency is your own virtue. This post is light on quotes from philosophers because perhaps this is less about what they expect and more about what I expect from myself – what we expect from ourselves.

Z3N0

Quick Quote Post: 2

I work in an environment where a lot of people disliking me or having a particular opinion of me in one way or another is a borderline expectation. It is what it is and a reality to be accepted yet not everyone accepts this. I act as I do in a professional way to my colleagues and while not as personal as I would be with those I consider friends, I try to be virtuous in my actions. For some, if not most, it can be unnerving or uncomfortable to work with and around those you know don’t like you – either personally or professionally. And are not all people of the world our colleagues in life? Luckily, our favourite Roman emperor has some words for you:

“Someone despises me? That is his concern. But I will see to it that I am not found guilty of any word or action deserving of contempt. Will he hate me? That is his concern. But I will be kind and well-intentioned to all, and ready this very person what he is failing to see – not in any criticism or display of tolerance, but with genuine good will, like the famous Phocion (if, that is, he was not speaking ironically). This should be the quality of our inner thoughts, which are open to the gods’ eyes: they should see a man not disposed to any complaint and free of self-pity. And what harm can you suffer, if you yourself at this present moment are acting in kind with your own nature and accepting what suits the present purpose of universal nature – a man at full stretch for the achievement, this way or that, of the common good?” Meditations 11.13

Phocion was a Greek statesmen nicknamed: “The Good”. He was sentenced to death and as his final words were to his son to not hold a grudge against his executors. I’ve spoken before about reputation and being liked yet I think it’s worth repeating the point. Are you, in your heart, a truly virtuous person – not without sin, perhaps, yet without blame?

Drink up your sangria, summer-child, give a genuine “hello” and “how are you” to your neighbour in the glasshouse with their stones. The sun shines on you both.

Z3N0