Progress Everyday

I was watching a Ryan Holiday video and he spoke about the point of stoicism not to be immediate change but the choice to improve oneself everyday in line with the stoic path. Which to me, is very similar to an exercise of the mind and soul as the gym is for the body. As the athlete trains the muscles and the physical nature of the self with routines and diet, the philosopher does so in a similar way with discussion, reflection and knowledge.

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

It’s a choice, as I was saying not long ago. It’s an active choice to move on from one’s own vices to live a virtuous life in harmony with the greatest good of not just the self but all of humanity rather than fester in the status quo. It’s the difference between being actively passive and actively cowardly, hiding from the truth of consequences of thought and action. Ideologies that feed into our vices serve only to enable our behaviors that are destructive. So you have the power with your tongue to break someone’s spirit, but the true power is perhaps in holding it in the first place.

Brains are designed to keep us safe, locked in paradigms of familiarity rather than healthier alternatives. Say we were brought up on turkey twizzlers and microwave mac ‘n’ cheese, the change to broccoli and sashimi is not going to be particularly enjoyable. Yet, it’s better for us and others in the long run. Let’s continue the metaphor: not only are we healthier in ourselves but also it eases the expected pressure on medical facilities and family members who will watch us fester in this lifestyle of consumption.

It goes the same with philosophy and ideology of course, the more harmful things we consume and accept about ourselves the more unhealthy we become. I’ve quoted this particular scene before, but following the conversation I just had less than an hour ago, it’s in my mind again:

BoJack Horseman : “Ow, crap. I hate this. Running is terrible, everything is the worst.

[Lying down, panting heavily]

BoJack Horseman : “Oh my God, oh my God.

Jogger : [stands over BoJack] “It gets easier.

BoJack Horseman : “Huh?

Jogger : “Everyday, it gets a little easier.

BoJack Horseman : “Yeah?

Jogger : “But you gotta do it everyday, that’s the hard part. But it does get easier.” – BoJack Horseman, “Out to Sea”

So when we wake up in the morning and scowl at the sun for waking us or the unfulfilling shit job we have to go to, does this make us any less a stoic or a virtuous person? Or does it make us human on the path to make progress everyday to do as our nature has intended us to do in harmony with our surroundings and self?

I like to think it’s the latter. What can I say? I’m an optimist – yes, I surprise myself.

Z3N0

In Practice

So today I went back to work after some extended time off and as I sat on the bus on my morning commute, I put into practice something I was forgetting. I was dreading going back, the institution representing my own stagnation in life with my career, family and development. There is nothing there for me in terms of tangible movement and aspiration other than my own progress of the self. Arguably this is the most important progress however some serotonin would be nice and future that seems tangible.

There I was on the bus – the later bus as I missed the first one thanks to an unregulated sleeping pattern – and I realized I had been forgetting to practice perhaps the most fundamental of all stoic practices and a phrase that I’ve repeated to no end.

“Today I escaped from all bothering circumstances – or rather I threw them out. They were nothing external, but inside me, just my own judgements.” – Meditations, 9.13

I took advice from another source, an unlikely source, that being Darth Kreia from Knights of the Old Republic 2, and felt the moment around me. I felt the surface of the seat against my body and the feeling of my hands in my lap and the headphones in my ears playing no music. My entire focus was inward and the external rumblings drifted away as I scanned myself and acknowledged each complaining part and released it unto itself. In the aftermath, as I was stepping off the bus at my stop, I was at peace with what was to come from the day.

It was uneventful and drama free as it was always going to be unlike my worst case scenarios. It had no real challenges or difficulties other than my body demanding sleep by three o’clock. Even the foible of the new policy of not having a coffee outside of breaks was negotiated and my addiction satiated. Everything was calm and serene or perhaps it was chaotic and it was I who was calm and serene – would I have known the difference?

It’s in these moments, in reflection of when these little occurrences take place that I enjoy my own progress of philosophy. That I’m not as Seneca said just growing in age not wisdom. To think without the practice of stoicism, I’d have been on edge all day waiting for it to go wrong as my own judgements had predicted and worn myself out more than I already was just from mentality alone.

I think back and wonder how many days slipped away from me just from lack of practice or practise – I never know which. How many hours I’ve wasted murmuring and chuntering to be entirely embarrassed only with myself and to myself about the lack of imagined scenario.

How many hours have you wasted?

Z3N0

Remember Who You Are

Being in the rut that I’ve been in has led me to forget a number of things and to discount a number of things. While this feeling of stagnation has clearly had its triggers and root causes that I can see clearly, in those times I have forgotten the core things that make me me – the me of the now, not before.

“Concentrate on the subject or act in question, on principle or meaning. You deserve what you’re going through. You would rather become good tomorrow than be good today.” – Meditations, 8.22

Or perhaps, we should turn to a modern philosopher, Jagger, with his words arranged by the incomparable Violet Orlandi:

Make sure to subscribe for more of her work and check her Spotify, linked at the end of this post.

In the moments of a grey fuzziness, ask that question: who are you? Set yourself that task. Break down each part. Who am I? I’ve been wallowing trying to find those answers since Saturday, and tonight, I got to bed early around 8pm. Now, its nearly 11 and I’m wide awake writing as a necessity to my own peace of mind. In my head there is a new sense of clarity and when I reflect on this I have no idea this sudden burst of energy comes from or injection of, in the words of Jagger, getting what I need.

Who am I?

I’m the armchair stoic – quite literally as of this moment, in an armchair -, sat in my kimono with a coffee and a wry smile. A Taoist of sorts in the school of Shangqing, my faith in Universe affirmed with a generous splash of Jedi philosophy. The observer of my own vastness, and observer rather than follower of existence – not disconnected or above from society yet positioned rather nicely in my own headspace rather than within another. Happiness is my destination, and it’s something that I work on myself, never being a thing tangible for longer than fleeting moments. I have no scars on my body – save a few minor cat scratches – the tissue cerebral only, each mark a lesson and imprint on my DNA. I have a fashion sense of a vaguely forgotten timelord and one of those energies that people seem to need to rely on, rather inexplicably. I have my flaws and marks, a confusing relationship with my own gender and a hyper-attention to detail battling with a desire to see the bigger picture. Yin and yang, working overtime in their conflict as I work to find a balance if I’ve not already found it without realizing.

Who are you?

Remove your trappings and purple dyes and look at yourself, honestly. Be generous yet be true because often is the case where we find ourselves being our own worst critic, using judgements that are not truly our own to assess ourselves. This judgement, creating more stress and anxiety for whose benefit?

“Look within: do not allow the special quality or worth of any things to pass you by.” – Meditations, 6.3

So here I am, oddly energized at 23:20, with a level of strange catharsis coursing through me like it was some trapped animal escaping from captivity back into the wild. I recommend it, in the words of Jeremy Jahns, it’s a good time with no alcohol required.

Step into your own existence, mine looking vaguely like a less artistic Dean McCoppin from Iron Giant if not exactly – my beard is better. What does yours look like? Remember who you are in those moments; those moments where sleep is the only enjoyable activity of the day and it calls at all waking moments. If you need help, seek it. Find what works for you whether that be medications or therapies or meditations to help you along your way, your journey is your own and you will strike a deal between the internal and external remedies. Of course, anything harmful masquerading as a remedy is just another layer to the crushing weight of blankets forcing you and trapping you into an existence of sleepy stagnation where this waking world is nothing more than a meaningless, headachy dreamscape.

We’ve all been there have we not? I know I have and I still have friends who can attest to the 6 months or so of my life which to me is just a blur of poor decision making – not mistakes, as of course there is no such thing.

With that being said, with there being no mistakes, where’s the harm in digging deep? Digging deep within to find an honest mirror of the self and see all the good you are and who you are at your core with purpose and diligence. The only thing preventing any of us is fear of the unknown and fear of what we might see and fear that we have not grown in philosophy as much as we have in years.

“Only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, 1933

Z3N0

P.S. As promised, a link to Violet Orlandi’s Spotify:

Stoic Lent

Today will be my final day as a meat eater for the foreseeable future. Maybe I’ll indulge in proteins from fish on occasion but for the rest of the time my diet will be wholly vegetarian. It’s not a massive inconvenience, the M&S veggie burgers are the best I’ve ever had, better than the beef equivalent in fact. It’s not a new experience, I was previously vegetarian for three months of last year, pushing myself to go as long as I could never attempting such a diet before. Christmas broke me of course, who can resist?

I never really thought of it as a lent as such until I was reading Seneca today on my lunch break. Beforehand, it was instead a strange need that I felt despite having no real moral stance on vegetarianism before. As someone growing up in a household with an Italian heritage, to refuse meat was seen a little like an alien request and even months into this attempt, the packs of salami in the fridge were looking very friendly.

“Still, my determination to put your moral strength of purpose to test is such that I propose to give even you the following direction found in great men’s teaching: set aside now and then a number of days during which you will be content with the plainest of food, and very little of it, and with rough, course clothing, and will ask yourself, ‘Is this what one used to dread?’ It is in times of security that the spirit should be preparing itself to deal with different times; while fortune is bestowing favours on it then is the time for it to be strengthened against her rebuffs.” – Letters from a Stoic XVIII

It’s like this summer heat, desiring the cool weather while in the winter we crave the heat. We teach ourselves to appreciate what we have, what we don’t have and that we never needed a thing to begin with. I read somewhere that some stoics have slept on the floor of the kitchen with nothing but a single pillow to appreciate the beds. Perhaps this trial of the self is similar yet also extended and not as fleeting as a night on the tiles. While a simple task for veteran vegetarians, for me this is a task each day after day reflective of the path of philosophy itself. Who knows, if it sticks as a matter of conscience and tribunal of the self, so be it.

When I think about it, I realize that I could give up plenty and still live my life wholly. Someone said to me today that they aspire to be rich. And I replied:

“To be rich you must first be prepared to be poor.” – Z

We can all afford to be poor. Being rich is not a thing of material but of self and for that you need only the items you were born with. It’s good practice at least, this little test of mine to go meat free. Test yourself, see what you can afford to lose and still remain wealthy.

Z3N0

The Difference A Day Makes

If you need more evidence about the transience and flux of time, see how much can change in a single 24 hour period. From the micro to macro, we have examples throughout history of how single moments in minute corners of our experience can change the course of fate. Of course, by changing the course of fate, I mean to divert it for a brief instance in the history of the multiverse, before it returns to it’s new equilibrium on a path of fine.

Take the current UK COVID-19 response, for example. Lockdown lifting seems imminent one day and hopes of holiday dashed by the next. One day the Conservatives seem set for an electoral landslide in the next GE only for Dominic Cummings to appear with enough bombs dropped to level Whitehall.

One of my favourite comic books, The Killing Joke talks about this from the perspective of The Joker.

DC Comic, Warner Bros.

It’s entirely nihilistic and on brand for the supervillain but is he wrong to define how changeable the world is, our reality is? A single experience can change our entire outlook on life for the better or worse, dependant on how deeply we allow it to affect us. For that, I refer to Stilbo:

“…when his home town was captured and he emerged from the general conflagration, his children lost, his wife lost, alone and none the less happy man, and questioned by Demetrius. Asked by this man, known, from the destruction dealt out to towns, as Demetrius the City Sacker, whether he had lost anything, he replied, ‘I have all my valuables with me.’ There was an active and courageous man – victorious over the very victory of the enemy! ‘I have lost,’ he said ‘nothing.’ He made Demetrius wonder whether he had won a victory at all.” – Letters from a Stoic IX

While the film of The Killing Joke was an insult to the source material, I can’t deny the raw talent of Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy all the same… I digress.

The Joker isn’t wrong but his nihilism is terribly destructive and selfish – realistically, what can we expect from a comic book villain? In a sense, it’s so meaningless and transient that it is maddening but its also brilliant. So brilliant in fact that we should not be surprised by anything at all nor upset by it. One day we sleep under a roof the next day open sky, yet we endure and overcome. We do this together, for the sake of each other not just ourselves.

The Way flows ever onwards never stopping, as our blood and our breath, even in death: we return to the blood and breath of the universe.

Each day when we wake up, take stock. See all the things you have and all the things you need. Take stock of what you are grateful for having because in seconds it may all fade with you or without you. From your friendships and relationships to the sheets you sleep in.

Amor fati and you will love whatever it brings, whatever the day.

I suppose, despite how sad it all seems, how lonely it is in the moment of these things happening, we learn quickly. I’m not above feeling sad and alone and despairing but I’m also someone who can find the root causes of these things. Fate, and love and all that comes with it are surmised by a metaphor my friend told me today.

“If you have a horse at your stables, that you love taking care of and it enjoys your company. You do activities together and everything’s perfect. Then a storm strikes, the horse is not being itself, it’s afraid and stressed. As the owner, you wish to calm it down and let it know that all is well. You tug at its reins, but it does not comply. It shoves away instead, so you naturally tug at it harder to make it come back to you. It’ll eventually relent and do as you wish but then it’s no longer genuine. It’ll look for chances to escape and be free again while you as the owner forces it back, it’ll be unhappy and so will you since things are no longer the same.” – X

Don’t tug on the reins and let this happen organically. Or rather as Bukowski said about fame and success: don’t try. You’ve got this more than you realize, fellow traveller; trust me and trust yourself.

Z3N0

Quick Quote Post: 8

Tonight I was going to write about the massive topic that is suffering yet ironically, I thought this would be a pain. So that topic is shelved for another day.

Instead, I’m going to share a long quote that I found resonated with me on my travels today. I experienced feeling like I was standing in the oddly calm eye of the hurricane as the world span uncontrollably around me. It was a lonely experience but I was ok with it. It was almost alien and I seemed unable to reciprocate the panic and stress and anger of my co-workers – something I’m not entirely unhappy about at all.

“Do not let the panorama of your life oppress you, do not dwell on all the various troubles which may have occurred in the past or may occur in the future. Just ask yourself in each instance of the present: ‘What is there in this work which I cannot endure or support?’ You will be ashamed to make any such confession. Then remind yourself that it is neither the future nor the past which weighs on you, but always the present: and the present burden reduces, if only you can isolate it and accuse your mind of weakness if it cannot hold against something thus stripped bare.” – Meditations 8.36

“Is my mind sufficient for this task, or is it not? If it is, I use it for the task as an instrument given by the nature of the Whole. If it is not, I either cede the work (if it is otherwise my responsibility) to someone better able to accomplish it, or do it as best I can, calling in aid someone whom in cooperation with my own directing mind, can achieve what is at this particular time the need and benefit of the community. Whatever I do, either by myself or with another, should this sole focus – the common benefit and harmony.” – Meditations 7.5

To quote another of my favourite things…

There is no chaos, there is harmony.

Reflect on these statements, next when you stand in a chaos of not your own making with the task of bringing harmony or keeping serene. On Monday, there are only four additional days to your Saturday morning off, if you are living the 9-5. It’s all fleeting and transient happenstance that you can overcome and be proud of overcoming each day. Even in your personal life, it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway for those who missed the point, and I may well have said it before:

You got this.

Z3N0

Seneca’s 16th Letter

I’ve found time to read again, or rather I’ve made the effort to read and the time has just been there all along, hiding between my naps and pacing. Once again, Universe or God or Allah or The Way seems to be guiding me towards conclusions with happenstances lining up exactly as I need them. I read Seneca’s letters and at the same time, a friend of mine talks to me about faith and trust and holding the faith and trust in the self and others. Of course, the story wasn’t that at all, but boiled down to its core, its about those factors. And, perhaps like all human stories, it was about love.

If you don’t know, we can’t exist without some kind of love. Even wars which we think are based on hate, are in fact based on the love of ones own ideology and others. You may curse fate for bringing war to your country but you will endure because you love your family and you love the life you have and the fight for the new equilibrium.

“Whether we are caught in the grasp of an inexorable law of fate, whether it is God who as lord of the universe has ordered all things, or whether the affairs of mankind are tossed and buffeted haphazardly by chance, it is philosophy that has the duty of protecting us.” – Letters from a Stoic XVI

Being a good person and true to one’s own discipline is a daily task and not an accomplished feat that you can overcome just the once. I was met today with a test of my own faith in another, and I was told that to be disciplined in trust is a virtue. Of course, with those words I could have kissed the person who said it on the mouth then and there but I was practising discipline. It reminds me of one of my favourite lines from the show Bojack Horseman, a series that everyone should watch, to reflect on themselves.

“Every day it gets a little easier… But you gotta do it every day — that’s the hard part. But it does get easier.” – Jogging Baboon, BoJack Horseman

The destination in your life when it comes to philosophy is not a finish line of enlightenment and a medal but the truest end – death. Philosophy has no finish line and its a path we all walk in some way or another. Don’t cry over potholes, step around them and brace for the incline. What goes up must come down and what goes down must come up.

“Carry out a searching analysis and close scrutiny of yourself in all sorts of different lights. Consider above all else whether you’ve advanced in philosophy or just in actual years.” – Letters from a Stoic XVI

Reflect on each of your steps before you make them, if you find yourself stepping on someone else’s head, you’ve gone off course. Today I found myself checking to see where I was treading, to see if I was finding gratification in easy shortcuts rather than walking the moral path. It was well intentioned and not malicious by anyone’s standards yet I found myself at a place of unease and needed to check my own map before continuing. The path as a wise person said to me today, is going to be fine and we need to have faith in it. It is difficult to see how ours will intersect with others or how another’s path with transpire before them yet when we have faith in ourselves and the universe, what need is there to worry? We keep walking, every day, with each breathe we walk. It is in our nature.

“Here is another saying of Epicurus: ‘If you shape your life according to nature, you will never be poor; if according to people’s opinions, you will never be rich.’ Nature’s wants are small, while those of opinion are limitless.”

You may never be the president if you choose not to step on heads and people may look down on you for your conviction. They make mistake your calm in a situation for apathy; your passiveness as callousness; your love as foolish, and your faith as delusion. The solution is that you keep walking your path undeterred in the light and goodness of the philosophy. You may never have sheets of gold but those who do, can wake up as paupers as easily as the rest of us so why do we care about the opinions of such things? Love your own way and you will find it easier to walk. Your way, The Way: amor fati.

Z3N0

The Emotional Battlefield

I was told recently that I’m a black and white individual, that I have a harsh and blunt demeanour. I didn’t notice my own sharpness until today. I was in a situation where someone became upset and I froze a little, confused on what to do. I just stood there and sighed; my internal monologue saying: “well fuck, what do I do now” instead of actually helping. The situation was resolved without me with a hug and kindness as I stood there a little like a spare part, my face with the expression of someone trying to solve some impossible equation.

What does this mean for me? Is it something for me to work on or something to accept within myself? Emotions make me uncomfortable in these situations yet for some reason, in others I can absorb myself fully into them, feel each facet and dissect them, exposing the root cause to begin to heal. I find myself saying often that I’m a tad psychic for this exact reason and my strange ability to know things and be able to advise the right thing in the right moment. Yet sometimes, I’m blinded.

It’s almost as if the fortress within is fussier than the one needed without. I am a fortress, my walls are made of tungsten and the palisades are as sharp as diamonds. Yet, I keep the drawbridge down for visitors, I need to both professionally, spiritually and socially. When I can be detached from a situation and not slap bang in the middle of it, I can casually dish out advice and good will like it’s Christmas yet when I’m there, in the thick of it, the drawbridge comes up. Plans are made, archers are readied and the vanguard forces are prepared to march and by the time all this is done, the event is over. The problem is now out of my hands. Fate has taken the wheel in the form of another person or condition uncontrolled.

This seems to extend to my life entire yet as my faith in myself and the Universe expands and my understanding of faith expands with it, it seems less and less of an issue to resolve. There is an acceptance of my own processing and my own judgement. As if I accept my weaknesses and allow things to resolve as they can when they are outside of my control. What other option do I have? Of course, I could force myself into these situations, throw myself into the deep end of the emotions of another to save the day yet is self sacrifice helpful? Do the tears I cry for another make the problem in the moment any easier? The resolution as I see it is to accept my talents and flaws in this: I am a long range actor not spearman in the war for emotion. A strategist is not a warrior and that’s okay.

Yet, as any sage should be, it pays to be prepared for when the gates fall in and the war comes home. Fortify your mind, accept the fates and the transience of your own chemical receptors to conditions. Face it all: love, hate, despair and joy with a critical eye. You will see through to the root causes of all of these things: why you feel this way and how you can remain from being overwhelmed. Of course if you find yourself overwhelmed, there’s no shame in it. That too will be as fleeting as everything else. It fades with time like a scar.

It’s about again, finding the balance within. To be able to be okay with that balance, even. It’s not an apathetic feeling just a contented one. Like you have everything you need and you have total acceptance of that. It’s a warm feeling that even in the face of your own weakness you are accepting the ebb and flow of the universe around you. Love it – amor fati.

This war at your gates for your emotional response, for your soul: it will last for as long as you do. Every human in history has battled the emotions from without, the true test is to not fight those within. See them, feel them, accept them and let them vanish as you roll your eyes at exactly what you don’t need. What do you need? Ask yourself. What do you need to feel in this moment and what makes it worth your time? Is it contentment, admiration, love, peace? Or is it something that keeps you up at night?

Z3N0

Falling Forward

I’ve been in discussion with someone tonight about the nature of the mistakes we make and how we respond to our mistakes and other mistakes. Because there are no mistakes and everything happens for a reason in line with our own natural ability to endure. Destiny and choice are not words that come associated with each other yet the way we fall, the way we get up often is. This person I’m talking to described it as falling forward which I’d never thought of before.

It’s such a simple phrase and something that will come up in all facets of the stoic philosophy. When we trust in the universe, we fall forward and get back up with ease because we know that each misstep happens for a reason. Without a faith in the universe, we can even say we fall forward because of a faith in ourselves and our philosophies of constant self improvement. Even naturally, we are hardwired in our biology to be kept safe and learn from these trips to not do them again. Our bodies repair themselves, forming new skin over the old damaged parts. It’s all transient and we all move forward and we fall in the same direction, following the laws of time and space that bind us all.

“Whatever happens to you was being prepared for you from everlasting, and the mesh of causes was ever spinning from eternity both your own existence and the incidence of this particular happening.” – Meditations 10.3

Billy Joel famously sings that we didn’t start the fire and it’s true.

“Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of the lesser men to light the flame.” – The War Doctor, Doctor Who: The Day of The Doctor

It’s how we step from the fire is what defines us. How do we carry those burns forward? Or if we emerge, unscathed, how do we tread? Is it with an ashy coating on our feet or are we victorious like Apollo in the sun? Yet, it’s always forward and always in the singular direction never turning back. We will all meet the same end but we all fall and stand up a little differently.

I like to see myself as a person who walks with my hand held behind me for someone to hold on to and pull themselves up when they need it, without looking back to see or care who it is I’m helping. I needed the same help to stand up in my own time, from my very first stumbling as I was learning to walk to this morning when I needed help at a self-checkout. It’s all altruism that has been offered to me, it would be such arrogance to not think to return the same good will back to the humanity that shaped me.

For others, it’s different: a life of challenge and pain to overcome. They stand up again and again with bruised knees, a limp yet with a determined demeanour. Those are the people I admire and if called, my hand will be held out to them all the same without judgement. We walk in parallel and entwined with each other in this existence, all moving forward, stumbling, standing, and carrying on.

It is our nature. To expect not to fall forward is to expect to never learn. I carry a cactus on my journey – it incentivises being cautious when both falling and standing. What do you carry?

“Dig inside yourself. Inside there is a spring of goodness ready to gush at any moment, if you keep digging.” – Meditations 7.59

Whatever it is, with a smile; always with a smile. Keep finding your own goodness, each fall forward is a gift and a testament to your own strength. Be proud of yourself for each lesson learned and each vice overcome and every virtue met as you move forward, joined in the chorus of footsteps of the universe.

Z3N0

Stoicism: Back to Basics

Today I thought I’d take things back and strip stoicism bare to its bones. In this sense, we need to look at the root of all things that make us who are to be able to examine the philosophy. When we think in such abstract terms and discuss the greater extensions of stoicism and its extensions that we forget the basics. Even stoics or people who call themselves stoic are prone to forgetting the foundations. It’s like being an expert in complex algebraic equations but are stumped by an analogue clock. It’s not unheard of.

So I’ll break it down in my understanding:

Condition + Biology = Person

That’s you, the sum of your conditioning and biology. Now we break those things down into their parts further in to two categories: Controlled and Uncontrollable.

When it comes to your biology, the controllable is rather simple: diet, exercise and healthy choices. We can control what to eat and drink; we control what amount of exercise we do, and we choose not to join the cast of Jackass and put sticks of dynamite up our arses for the sheer hell of it. What is not controlled are things like allergies, chemical imbalances and mental illness, and genetics. These things we will never be able to have control over no matter how hard we may want to. Growing up, I craved peanut butter despite it being deadly to me and that was that.

With your condition, the controllable is a very short list in comparison to what you cannot control. What you can control: your actions, your behaviours, your attitude and your immediate environment. That’s it. Of course the more personal power to wield in an office, the greater your reach. What you cannot control is almost infinite: other people, time, space, God and Fate and all their friends. To try to control what you cannot is madness and pointless. You will be scratching at the threads of time trying to leave some sort of tangible mark to be swept away with everyone else like dry dead leaves in an autumn wind. All you’ll do is make a fool of yourself in the time you have. If that’s the point, crack on, of course, but should anyone else suffer (you fool)?

Perhaps, in the grander sense:

Condition + Biology = Universe

In perfect balance and harmony, these are the core components of our existence. We cannot change or upend the rules so why try? I was reading Seneca today and almost as if it was divinely placed before me, I arrived at his 11th letter.

“For no amount of wisdom enables one to do away with physical or mental weaknesses that arise from natural causes; anything inborn or ingrained in one can by dint of practice be allayed but not overcome.” – Letters from a Stoic XI

I have depression and anxiety, this is a thing I cannot control yet allay with medications and introspection of the self to ensure that it does not over take me. I accept this, because I call myself a stoic. It’s not a shameful thing for anyone to harbour a thing that they cannot control. A blindness, a deafness, a mental illness: this is a thing of fate and you are no more or less than another. You are as strong as your peers, as human and as valuable as any part of this great cosmos.

“No amount of wisdom, as I said before, ever banishes these things; otherwise – if she eradicated every weakness – wisdom would have dominion over the world of nature. One’s physical make-up and the attributes that were one’s lot at birth remain settled no matter how much or how long the personality may strive after perfect adjustment. One cannot ban these things any more than one can call them up.” – Letters from a Stoic XI

These are the basics.

Stoicism does not demand you to cure your own maladies through thought and good will, it’s about acceptance of them. Realizing that you, in conjunction with everything around you, exists in harmony with the cosmos. This is the Way, this is the truth.

Z3N0