Sweet Spot

I find myself in at a bit of a loose end when it comes to hobbies and career with both things seemingly rather vacuous and without any real fulfilment. Currently as it is, my hobbies of gaming and roleplaying have been a little lacklustre as well as my own visions of returning to work and the routine. This great fatigue seems rather endless and as such, I have turned to the old faithful of Marcus Aurelius:

“Live through life the best way you can. The power to do so is in a man’s own soul, if he is indifferent to things indifferent. And he will be indifferent if he looks at these things both as a whole and analysed into their parts, and remembers that none of them improses a judgement of itself or forces itself on us. The things themselves are inert: it is we who procreate judgements about them and, as it were, imprint them on our minds – but there is no need for imprinting at all, and any accidental print can immediately be erased. Remember too that our attention to these things can only last a little while, and then life will be at an end. And what, anyway is the difficulty in them? If they are in accord with nature, welcome them and you will find them easy. If they are contrary to nature, look for what accords with your own nature and go straight for that, even if it brings you no glory. Anyone can be forgiven for seeking his own proper good.” – Meditations 11.16

It’s hard not to spiral into a strange stagnant despair of things and to stop the thought process before it takes off is the challenge of us all. Which is worsened by watching the world and observing the actions of world leadership, those who ideally we are to aspire to look up to, abandon their own obligations to themselves and each other, giving up or acting with obsessive passion to achieve nothing but more mess. Yet then, like Aurelius says, it is the job of the stoic to look for what accords with your own nature, and remove the impression and judgement.

“Unhappiness, is a sign one has lost one’s balance. – Barsen’thor, Star Wars: The Old Republic

I find that more and more the true balance is much more challenging than riding a bike, which was difficult for me enough as it is. But like riding a bike, when you get it, you just get it and you never forget. You have to block it all out, all that distraction and noise and focus on what is in accordance with you, within. Because you will find it. Finding that sweet spot of time and space that allows you to breathe and seeks out both the detail and big picture in harmony and see past a thing with total understanding and unmoving eyes is something that becomes a habit.

It can be applied to any problem or impression ultimately but it is not a case of not having emotions of a thing or being blind to the emotions of others, but understanding them and not letting them overwhelm or control. In the end, the only thing you can control is yourself never circumstance, even when you feel like you have no control over the self, in fact you do, it just requires that aforementioned sweet spot.

One such experience, is finding myself dismissive of things that would once annoy the hell out of me. The root cause: ignorance, both malicious and accidental. It’s not person or people but ideas born of ignorance, which leads to fear, and …

Fear is the path to the dark side … fear leads to anger … anger leads to hate … hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda, The Phantom Menace

Et cetera.

When we learn to become dismissive of these things – by being indifferent to things indifferent – and understanding that hatred is just a key to unlocking more of our own suffering at the hands of a concept or ideology and our impressions of them, it’s like a weight being lifted. It’s something that I personally had to experience and have multiple times with my own anger towards individuals, actions and concepts ranging from the hubris of Western military intervention to the all consuming insecurities of a former friend and the destructive tools of deflection they used. Ironically, the latter was diffused with the realisation that I have been guilty of the exact same thing – it’s funny how things look in the mirror sometimes.

It’s not a simple ask but when achieved it will seem so simple all along, like riding a bike for the first time. That sweet spot, the wonderful slice of clarity where everything just slips away may come too late for comfort but it will come. It just takes a little work to find it.

Z3N0

Landslide of the Mind

I have experienced a landslide of the mind.

The summer solstice has brought some rather challenging upheaval and with it came a test of my philosophy that I did not pass. Or rather I did pass, in seeing my own anger in itself at a situation. I slapped a bannister, if you can imagine, a bit like how I would be slapping my forehead against a brick wall – or rather it seemed like I was doing that with my words. It was a landslide of emotions that I’ve spoken of before. In my line of work, I see lots of minor experiments with pressure and aluminium cans and this felt oddly familiar. In the moments after, as the dust settled and my life had been relocated and shifted with such fated force, I realized the futility of the emotion of it all.

Despite everything, the person I blame for the upheaval of my living situation is myself in my reaction to it all. I did the right thing, and stood my ground for something I believed in with conviction yet my emotional response was a failing. Where a thing needed a tempered level of apathy, I popped like a shook up coke can.

The situation is inconsequential, of course. I am the only one to blame for my own emotions and reactions to stimuli considering all my talk of philosophy and what not.

“You need to sort that temper out.” – X

Of course I do, hence my philosophy in training. Of course being temperamental is probably the only impression I’ve given this week considering the two incidents. Is this what my philosophy boils down to? Losing my temper when pushed to it’s limit, with familial bonds being pushed to the edge of my own reason?

I’ve been told that I did the right thing and that I’m not in the wrong and that it was understandable, how I reacted. Yet, I cannot understand myself. It feels like a disservice to the self in the end my own standards. I am grateful to the support I received but in the end the only person who’s opinion matters on the intricacies of my own mind is me, and I failed myself. In the stoic sense, it’s a lesson for me to learn from and move on. I’ve already moved on quite literally to another accommodation and foresee myself here for some time, at least 3 weeks. But, that, in the end, inconsequential to the philosophy within.

“My soul, will you ever be good, simple, individual, bare, brighter than the body that covers you? Will you ever taste the disposition to love and affection? Will you ever be complete and free of need, missing nothing, desiring nothing live or lifeless for the enjoyment of pleasure? Or time for longer enjoyment, or amenity, space and climate? Or good company? No, will you not rather be satisfied with your present state and take pleasure in all that is presently yours? Will you not convince yourself that all your experience comes from the gods, that all is well and all will be well for you, all that the gods see fit to give you, now and hereafter, in the maintenance of that perfect Being which is good and just and beautiful, which generate all things, sustains and contains all things, embraces all things as they dissolve into the generations of others like them? Will you ever such as to share the society of gods and men without any criticism of them or condemnation by them?” – Meditations 10.1

For now, the focus, is as ever, the moment and moving forward in the moment. It’s all I have in my control now, and all I will ever have – until the time it isn’t and then, will be time to learn once more.

Z3N0

Concepts of Self

I’ve found myself increasingly attached to concept over reality when it comes to things I become passionate over and for things that irritate me to my core. Such things like story ideas, frameworks of how things should be and could be, development of philosophical thought and reflection. Ironic, how the real world bothers me less than the fantastical and in comparison never scratches that depth that the fantastical does. It’s almost as if that I have created a disconnect within myself and those around me to establish myself as a calm presence yet my own internal world in a warzone of its self.

I know for a fact that for the past few days and weeks, my own growth within has been tangible to my own observations and from others yet for the life of me, I cannot seem to shake this conflict between yin and yang and the passions of my own imposed impressions of vague thoughts. This is most experienced when playing Star Wars The Old Republic and roleplaying imaginary aliens fighting imaginary creatures. I spend hours on these concepts and developing plans and perfecting the tiny corner of the tiny corner of the tiny corner of my own imaginary landscape. Not just for myself but for others to enjoy and have a proper and enjoyable escapism. Yet isn’t it amusing, how escapism itself is so anti-stoic. How can one live in the moment by not living in this moment but literally another, in a galaxy far far away? So I play a character who is my aspiration, my goal for development of the self, the higher mind as it were and my philosophical, spiritual and intellectual superior – with minor quirks of course, for some separation to not be entirely lost in my second life like Dwight from The Office. It’s a helpful concept, like looking at art in motion and a concept in motion with a continual free forming journey. Yet these concepts, these minor obtuse details irritate me more than the thought of my own death.

Strange is it not? That such things can have a hold on us. As someone who roleplays as being a Jedi without attachment, it becomes rather laughably ironic that I hold an attachment to something so intangible. Yet I have gained friends from this experience and learned lessons about the self along the way with this art being my own guiding light.

Tonight for example, I was irritated and came into conflict with someone I consider a close friend over the specific decorations of a specific room that’s not even real. What was the purpose of the conflict? What did either of us gain other than hurting each other’s feelings – another failing of my philosophy but at least one I can recognize.

In the end, I ask myself, can I call myself a stoic? Can I call myself a philosopher of the school or at least follower if I cannot seem to confront this very simple thing? I lean on a crutch here, what crutches do you need? I’m perfectly capable of living up to my own aspirations without the need of an amphibian Jedi avatar yet I find it comforting, I find solace and peace method acting. If Stanislavski would see me employ his technique of theatre, I suppose he would be impressed with my dedication of playing the stoic man. I play the part, I become the part, that is the goal, it’s what always has been the goal, has it not for all those walking the Path?

You play the part and you keep nudging yourself and returning to the reflection and the texts until it becomes a part of you. Like muscle memory or just you. It’s like learning times tables, we will stumble and fall and trip and bitch and moan. Eventually though we can say that four times six is twenty-four without a second’s thought or even that. It is a skill in the end not a talent. I see myself failing everyday in lots of different ways but I see myself growing too. I see myself identifying the mistakes and I see myself trying to move on from them. Perhaps from this minor thing, mine and my friends relationship is irreparably damaged, I don’t know but I’ll accept consequences of that as my failing to learn from.

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” – Meditations 10.16

Z3N0

Quick Quote Post: 11

I was told to fuck off by a small child today. The whole situation was rather laughable, a situation caused by a simple instruction that somehow warranted that reaction. It’s snowballed since, with the overreaction causing an overreaction yet in this scenario, I, the supposed wounded party, do not care in the slightest. Sure, it caused a little delay to the flow of my day and gave me something to do yet the drama of it all was lost on me. It reminded me of a piece from Meditations:

“If your distress has some external cause, it is not the thing itself that troubles you, but your own judgment of it and you erase this immediately. If it is something in your own attitude that distresses you, no one stops you correcting your view. So too if you are distressed at not achieving some action you think salutary, why not carry on rather than fret? ‘But there’s an obstacle in the way too solid to move.’ No cause for distress then, since the reason for failure does not lie with you. ‘But life is not worth living if I fail this’. Well then, you must depart this life, as gracious in death as one who does achieve his purpose, and at peace, too, with those who stood in your way.” – Meditations 8.47

While perhaps death in the face of being told to fuck off by a child when trying to break up a fight is a little extreme, it speaks here about also ejecting yourself from the circumstance. Death, in the spiritual sense is just a new existence and form of change – and in the stoic sense too. Change your purpose and approach in peace and grace. There is no real shame in it if you really cannot see past the obstacles in your way, imaginary or not.

At the end of the day, in my case, things were made worse by those who took offence to a thing where I found no fault. I was not injured, I was not distressed. If anything I was bored and wanted to get along with my afternoon and preferably the situation would have been resolved without any overreaction. Yet it happened, will continue to happen in some form or another because to expect verbal abuse to cease with one swoop is fantasy. It’s almost as fantastical as the impressions supposedly left on me by the curse words. I suppose in another sense, it’s a teaching opportunity to ensure that one day this child doesn’t say something to someone who will be as passive about the whole thing. If not able to teach, all there is left to do is tolerate and wish them luck to avoid being punched at some point.

Z3N0

Subject of Scorn

Today was challenging, not just because of the heat in a shirt and tie. I found myself in a situation, the subject of scorn from another, hatred even as I came to learn from evidence of messages. It was strange, I do not know this person yet they made judgements about me, about my nuances and intricacies and decided to brand me as a passive aggressive and snooty sexual deviant. This person did their rounds, telling people about their incorrect impression of me, deflecting from their own short comings and obsessions. I was not the only one to take some heat, another friend of mine was in the firing line too over old scars.

How does it feel to be the subject of scorn so open and free? The fire that was aimed at me and a friend was so convoluted and meaningless to the source of all of this anger that it seemed almost ridiculous. His associations were so subjective and second-hand that they tasted faintly of some strange desperation as if he was a drama student trying his best to stammer through lines.

“When another blames you or hates you, or people voice similar criticisms, go to their souls, penetrate inside and see what sort of people they are. You will realize that there is not need to be racked with anxiety that they should hold any particular opinion about you. But you should still be kind to them. They are by nature your friends, and the gods too help them in various ways – dreams and divination – at least to the objections of their concern.” – Meditations 9.27

I wrote in my notes beside this passage: “disagree. Kindness yes, universal friendship, no.” We are kind to things that we have no use for in our lives, the same way I have no use for the opinions or company of an individual chasing desire, lashing out any those who are perceived to be threats to that goal. It’s like the noise of a lawn mower on a lazy Sunday: it’s there, it would be great if it wasn’t but what’s unkindness going to do about it? I certainly don’t want to be friends with the thing or friendly but I will tolerate it as a part of the same Whole that I exist in.

Sometimes, the kindest thing to do is let someone fail in their turbulences and misgivings. Why? Failure is the best way we learn and today I failed to leave his wrong where it fell, inserting myself into the conversation rather than letting the situation extinguish itself. Another friend of mine saw failure in their actions, being too trusting and open with an individual who betrayed that trust and used it as a weapon of accusation at another to simply stoke the fire of a fight. As for the betrayer and stoker, the spiteful chick was kicked from the nest to fly or fall. We have nothing left to teach, nothing left to give and no half-way points met with a person who rejects it all – so what else is there? As someone who has been barred from my favourite haunt in the past I know that there will be another and I will take my lessons from that with me so where is the true blame? With the establishment that I compromised my position in, or within my own conduct? The latter of course. My only wish for the stoker and betrayer is that they come to a similar conclusion about the breaking of these social bonds.

I have noticed a progress within myself, however. Some time ago, I was writing about being tested and the lies of another and the opinions of another. This was nearly 100 days ago now – nearly a 100 posts ago – and it consumed my thoughts. Today I feel only a fatigue that washed off with a shower and meditation and a concern for a friend. I have our scorner to thank for that gift of clarity and wisdom in this moment after the drama and ruckus. Sometimes, we can only see the true horizon when the dust settles.

“Up, down, round and round are the motions of the elements, but the movement of active virtue follows none of these: it is something more divine, and it journeys on to success along a path hard to understand.” Meditations 6.17

Z3N0

Being Defended

It’s unusual to find myself being defended, much preferring to do it myself and with an efficiency to my own taste with a confidence in my own ability to deal with a situation in my control. Yet today, for the first time in a long time or at least for the first time in my own recollection as I sit here, I am being asked to put my faith in someone else defending me. I have to trust that they have my best interests at heart and I have to trust in the skill of their rhetoric to dismiss an individual entirely blind to his own shenanigans. It’s a test of friendship and love not just trust. In the end, the entire situation is out of my control, in fact I would have never have known about it if not for the courtesy.

It’s another test.

Another test of philosophy in the face of what I can and cannot control. I can only watch, provided courtesy of doing so, like a spectator watching a boxing match. It’s far more invasive than the casual observations like this. It’s like watching the news about the world and feeling that wish to be able to help but ultimately knowing that you can’t. Nothing can be done and you have to have faith in the universe as well as faith in the self that you will make the right choices in line with your nature and highest and greatest good for humanity.

Tonight’s topic was going to be about days and the illusion of bad days and good days. In the end, all we have are regular days that come one after the other and each day demands a little thing different for us to relinquish. Today, I am asked to relinquish my own conviction and integrity and allow an ally to hold those things in their hands. They have the power. Yet should things not go as I would prefer what would I lose? Aside from my temper – which is something that’s a constant work in progress.

“When someone does you wrong, you should consider immediately what judgement of good or evil led him to wrong you. When you see this, you will pity him, and not feel surprise or anger. You yourself either still share his view of good, or something like it, in which case you should understand and forgive: if, on the other hand, you no longer judge such things as good or evil, it will the easier for you to be patient with the unsighted.” – Meditations 7.26

I do pity the actor who I am being defended from. This person is making overtures to hide and deflect their own inadequacies and failings, something I can relate to. Yet, still I would be lying if my thoughts we not entirely dismissive of his intent good or bad, his execution so sloppy that if he were a surgeon he would have killed his patient twice over. The assassin of my name came armed with a plastic spoon. So what do I have to worry about? The faith in another is faith in the self, so surely as a person of a faith in self to do what is right here, why should I not trust my defender similarly?

It’s an unpleasant feeling, being this powerless for the most minor of things yet perhaps this is another thing to accept in itself as part of the natural endurance of what it means to be human. My own turbulent feelings wash over me about trust and who to trust and what to trust, questioning all things at all times and analysing a thing to its core. It’s a double edged sword that forces me to see a flaw in even the most perfect of diamonds and feel slighted by its existence as if my search to find that flaw wasn’t the intent in the first place. It’s a judgement for me to release, an impression of my own on another who has been perhaps as transparent as I have been in my wants and needs in the bond we share. The game of one-step-forward-two-steps-back is a game that I play with myself and tonight I have to trust, I have to face my own game and kick over the board or be locked into an emotional purgatory of pain and distaste.

As I was writing this I felt a tickle on my neck and a panic: a big furry caterpillar was crawling over me somehow attached to me undetected. I took it outside and put it in the hedgerow yet I think about what it’s telling me. I think about the metaphor in my hands of my own rebirth of perspective or rather the rebirth require of my own perspective.

Amor fati, bitch,” it says, “Evolve: trust, love, accept.”

Z3N0

The Little Things

I was properly angry for the first time in months last night. What was it you ask? Was it some massive injustice that caused you to lose your rag? Some Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker duel of wits and fates? No, of course not don’t be ridiculous: it was my friends having a Netflix watch-along group and had omitted to tell me. Incredible isn’t it? I do not feat my own death nor do I fear the loss of my home and all my treasures yet this is what upset me, this is what I allowed to upset me.

Perhaps it was the hypocrisy of it all, being told to try more with them while at the same time being excluded from an area of expertise that would have allowed me to have a good time with them – a degree in media helps with film recommendations. Or perhaps I was allowing myself to self-destruct to protect myself further from minor slights.

When we spend our time in our philosophies dismissing the big things like death and loss and pure hatred of circumstance, the little things slip through the cracks. It’s like a land slide: little droplets of water accumulate in the mountainside until one day they little droplets become force to topple the mountain. It was in Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds that the technologically superior and almost all powerful alien invaders were defeated by the common cold. Perhaps it’s hubris not to assume that nature would do as nature does if left unattended – if I left my own circumstance unattended, and if I left my own emotions to them unattended.

I reflect now, what other minor things have been bothering that I’m allowing to build up under the surface in the shifting soil? Each passive aggressive slight, each mosquito bite, each stubbed toe. What things are in my power to regain control over? Not the slights, they are actions of another; the bites can be cured by closing my window at night and some spray; the stubbed toes can be avoided by being more careful with the bathroom door late at night.

What of the tribe? What of my lack of faith in the tribe? I cannot control what they do only my perceptions of them and I perceive little mutual respect, my cup flowing over to receive dust in return. Perhaps I’ve missed the point of friendship if I expect something, anything back at all even the sanctity of trust and transparency. I cut myself from them, finding myself to be lonely in their company, now I am alone – bar one individual. They asked me why, why I could not bring myself to eject from them too. The truth is and was that they are my best friend, the one I thought and perhaps think I can be raw and honest with in the truest way possible to my own nature.

“The Doctor: You betrayed me. You betrayed my trust, you betrayed our friendship, you betrayed everything I ever stood for. You let me down!

Clara: Then why are you helping me?

The Doctor: Why? Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?” – “Dark Water”, Doctor Who

Perhaps in the end, we all rely on people more than we like to admit to ourselves. The contented man is happy within himself true, but when we taste that sweet fruit of truest company, nothing compares. Yet like all fruit, it turns sour. Its time comes and there is a time to accept and throw it away. There will be more fruit: unripe, ripening, ready to be harvested and savoured. We are farmers in our own way. I keep finding myself coming back to the same tree for the same fruit.

My intent now is to ensure the soils around this tree – the entire orchard – never shift and slide down the mountain again.

As a man once said: “It ain’t much but it’s honest work.”

Z3N0

Schrodinger’s Douchebag

Urban Dictionary defines this term as:

“One who makes douchebag statements, particularly sexist, racist or otherwise bigoted ones, then decides whether they were “just joking” or dead serious based on whether other people in the group approve or not.
“Oh man women should just stay in the kitchen, it’s the only place they’re useful”
with one group “Haha just kidding, that’s sexist”
with anther “lol amirite”
“You’re a total schrodinger’s douchebag you know that right?””
– theoriginalspike October 23, 2013

Today I found myself in conflict with one such individual and it was remarkable to see it in action from another perspective outside of my teenage self. Of course as an adult it was a massive pain to deal with and entirely unnecessary. We encounter these professional gas lighters everywhere: in our workplace, in our local town centres, in the media, and in our homes. Are we surprised by this?

In a world of unaccountability and limited self-awareness, can we truly be surprised by this kind of behaviour? It’s not limited to individuals either. Entire corporations and governments get up to this sort of thing all the time. This ironic little paradox seeps into every layer of our society out of a refusal to face the music of immoral and unvirtuous behaviour. One such example who sticks out in my mind is Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket who’s so-called sense of humour has masked a number of rather exposing social faux pas. Another example: Kathy Griffin, who’s depiction of Donald Trump’s severed head was dialled back as a joke not a strange poor taste act of political activism.

In my experience today, I was faced with an individual who made a comment about a friend of mine. When challenged on this, it of course meant that I was the snowflake and couldn’t take the joke – something I have come to expect from this person after getting to know them over the course of the last five months. Admittedly, I lost my zen.

Of course, now, I’m the idiot who got angry on the internet over ones and zeroes by a perfect stranger. While my anger was well intentioned in trying to uphold my own integrity and stand up for a person who I trust as I trust myself, I feel a failure. I, in the moments following it could be accused of being a Schrodinger’s Choleric. I said to the others who were a part of this that I was fine and entirely at peace with the situation and that my tone was not intended to come across as angry. Of course: a lie. Here I am now, alone with myself, unable to justify my own feelings of rage towards someone who means very little to me. I’m also trying to justify how my rage affects the person who means a lot to me. What am I doing for them now aside from being distant and cold in my brooding?

“Anyway, where is the harm or surprise in the ignorant behaving as the ignorant do? Think about it. Should you not rather blame yourself, for not anticipating that this man would make this error? Your reason gave you the same resource to reckon his mistake likely from this man; yet you forget and are now surprised that he went wrong.” – Meditations 9.42.3

In reflecting on my own blame for this situation which has led to a number of awkward social snafus and potential further dramas, I see myself repeating in actions I thought I left behind. I see myself almost enjoying the drama of it all; I see myself indulging the ability to put someone down with words over some slight. It feels dirty and it feels like I need to have a bath to wash off my own stink. Yet, should I be surprised of my own nature to indulge in having a barbed tongue? Or would it be better to accept my flaws and see them for what they are which is a part of me and reflect on the application?

“Constantly test your mental impressions – each one individually, if you can: investigate the cause, identify the emotion, apply the analysis of logic.” – Meditations 8.13

This feeling I have now is shame. A shame for losing my temper and rather than teaching or tolerating kindly, I took a strange pleasure in the moment to be cruel. In defending others, I exposed my own darkness; something I thought fading like the night sky at dawn as I grow closer to my balance. Yet perhaps it was the desire to protect a person I care about that unbalanced me. I need to reflect and do better of course, yet if being unbalanced in the moments where we stand for those we love, then I think it’s entirely forgivable. A lesson to be learned in attachment, expectation of the ignorant and the expectations of the self.

In the end, the situation is resolved and while the offender is dealt with and my friends are secure in themselves and alignment, I feel alone. It’s a loneliness of my own making and I accept it.

Z3N0

Pity not Anger

Currently I’m dealing with a person that should anger me. Or rather, other human beings would understand looking objectively if they were to anger me. They have accused me of things I have not done; warped facts to establish a false narrative; weaponized honesty against others; acted in hostility to defend their own demand for pleasures, and actively inflate minor details for a larger reaction. It’s annoying, no? Angering? Worthy of pure contempt and fiery rage to throw the interloper out for their nature as a cheese grater on my brain. No, because then I will be no better than them. Would any of us be better than the creator of upset if we were to become upset ourselves? Of course not. We would just be adding to the hot air and noise and disruption to our own natures.

I pity this person because I see a desperate act and need for validation. I see anxiety that I see in myself. I see a desire for pleasure and the thirst to be seen. It’s pity I feel, a deep heavy sense of pity. I cannot change this person’s behaviour, they have identified me as a bad actor for revealing truths, not in a malicious way but as a way to hold a mirror to someone so that can see too.

“When someone does you some wrong, you should consider immediately what judgement of good and or evil led him to wrong you. When you see this, you will pity him, and not feel the surprise or anger. You yourself either still share his view of good, or something like it, in which case you should understand and forgive: if , on the other hand , you no longer judge such things as either good or evil, it will be easier for you to be patient with the unsighted.” – Meditations 7.26

This person used me as a weapon to emotionally manipulate another to satisfy pleasures. It’s a very convoluted and complex situation, perhaps so niche that it’s never happened before. Yet, that’s not true either is it? Every emotion we can experience has been experienced. Every manipulation at its core, each scheme and plot has been played out. From the betrayal of Caesar to the Gunpowder Plot to this very niche instance. Nothing that happens cannot be overcome, nothing in your life you are truly alone in experiencing.

“Nothing can happen to any human being outside the experience which is natural to humans – an ox too experiences nothing foreign nature of the oxen, a vine nothing foreign to the nature of vines, a stone nothing outside the property of a stone.” – Meditations 8. 46

It’s strange this feeling of calm, it’s almost unnatural in comparison to the feelings of those around me. I feel ambivalent of the words they call me, the lies they say, the vitriol they spit in my direction to unbalance others. Instead, I feel a deep remorse for them. I am sorry that their life is in such a state that this was necessary. I will be there for my friends, wholly, to support them, to love them as I love myself to repair their hurt hearts. A weird kind of sadness to be sad for another’s actions towards me instead of hateful. It’s a new experience for me and I don’t mind it. It’s not as heavy as anger nor is it as sticky.

My priority, as should yours in these situations, are the ones who are hurt. I will be there not for reasons of making myself look better or improving relationships but to genuinely be there for them. Anything else would be an injustice of the soul.

“What is my object in making a friend? To have someone to be able to die for, someone I may follow into exile, someone for whose life I may put myself up as security and pay the price as well.” – Letters from a Stoic IX

Anger is not for the stoic neither is retribution. My first, and your first priority should be the return to a new, better equilibrium, friends first.

Love fate and all it brings and you will be secure in your self. When you are secure in yourself, you’ll feel no anger to those who don’t.

Z3N0

In the face of Ignorance

“I wish all of the people who are vaccinated to into a big auditorium and get COVID so I can just laugh at them all.” – X

You realize that would include A and B?” – Z

Don’t care.” – X

What do you do in the face of such ignorance? In this case, a level of spiralling resentment that a person would happily make throwaway comments, lauding over the potential deaths of family members. What does it prove? What good does half-baked, Facebook informed bullshit opinion do? Aside from sow resentment, of course. When it’s argued, when the rational point is put across to try to help reflection take place on such comments, the response is: “you need to learn I’m allowed an opinion.” Of course, X is allowed an opinion. Like everyone. It’s such a shame that those opinions, as half-baked and batshit as they are, calcify into facts.

What does our favourite Emperor say about ignorance and ignorant people or avoiding becoming bitterly hateful towards them? And yes, one day, I will find a new philosopher to quote.

“Try to persuade them, but act even if they are unpersuaded, whenever the principle of justice so directs. But if someone forcibly resists, change track to an unhurt acceptance, so using the obstacle to bring forth a different virtue. And remember that you set out on a conditional course – you were not aiming at the impossible. So what were you aiming at? An impulse qualified by condition. This you have achieved: what we proposed to ourselves has been accomplished.” – Meditations 6.50

What was the proposal here? That I confirm the diagnosis that my own words are futile? All I can due is accept that futility as easily as I accept death. Yet for some reason, accepting death is more comfortable than the words and actions of another individual. Why? Perhaps, because I know that death is an act of nature and it is in my nature to die. Angry vitriol and spite is against our nature; to wish disease on family – or even kin in the most general of terms – for the sake of argument is against our nature as human beings. It is just to be disgusted by things that are unnatural to the human condition or rather purposefully ignorant of the responsibility we have to each other. It’s a greed of material status quo and gluttony of sensation that leads creates such an unshakable fortress of delusion.

I am a hypocrite of course, as I’ve discussed to no end before. Remember the Bible passage, John 8:7 : “He who is without sin…”

“You have many faults and are no different from them.” – Meditations 11.18.4

What are my faults, right now? Off the top of my head I can think of one irrational vice against humanity. I have a hardwired level of sexism that is exacerbated by bad actors, media influence and experience culminating in trust issues and an irrational fear of commitment. Is it fair of me to judge as I harbour my own ignorance and irrational thought patterns? No, of course not. Because it stems from fear, all of it. All ignorance does. The fear to face this is a fear of evolution, a fear of evolution is a fear of change and so on and so on. On the positive, I can say that I’ve identified these issues within me and I’m working to eliminate my ignorance without fear of the now and without fear of the then.

“When you are high with indignation and perhaps losing patience, remember that human life is a mere fragment of time and shortly we are all in our graves.” – Meditations 11.18.6

That’s the truth isn’t it? For all of X’s bluster and my ever righteous soliloquys, it’s all pointless wasted energy. If I can’t show him the better way, the more rational way to be, I should move on because in the end: we’ll all be dead. It’s not morbid, if anything it’s quite calming. Zoom out of the experience and take a birds eye view of it all and see how meaningless the bluster is. It’s just hot air after all.

“The greater grief comes from the consequent anger and pain, rather than the original causes of our anger and pain.” – Meditations 11.18.8

So I bit my tongue and nodded and removed myself from the battlefield. What would be the point of causing myself more anger and pain when I know the outcome? The outcome: no movement of either philosophy or growth just sore feelings and a rough atmosphere. Yet I learn – we learn – for the future, for our own growth. When the time comes, I will be happy in myself and my own philosophy knowing that is not founded on the hatred of the things around me that I cannot control. I will work on my own vices and ignorance to become a better stoic, a better person, a better human being, irrespective of the ignorance of the other. It’s not about what X does or about what they do; it’s about what I do and about what we do.

Z3N0