Christmas Cheer

This year Christmas will be different for many people, I’m sure. It’s going to be one on my own; in my lock down hacienda, the invisible weight of COVID sat on my chest. It’s a lesson – again – to be careful about what I wish for as I’ve always idealised the Hugh Grant About A Boy Christmas, watching horror movies. The film says that no man is an island, and I think there’s a lot of undue stigmas that come with being an island. In this case, we’re going to think philosophically, not literally, as I’ve gotten quite accustomed to the privilege of timely deliveries of brie slices at my bedroom door.

I’m now at Day 4 of my isolation and Day 2 of being confirmed as a plague carrier, and this is the earliest I’ve been up all week. Which is perfectly reasonable, hell, Descartes had all of his best ideas in bed, and that’s not something you’ll hear on a self help YouTube video. Even stoics would ask, is this your purpose? To be in bed? I ask, how do you know it’s not? We can get a lot done from our beds; Descartes did, so did Cassanova. So now, in bed, I am reflecting on being alone. My best company hundreds of miles away, and my family on eggshells not sure what to say – from either pro-vax or anti-vax camps.

I’m not feeling down about it, nor should anyone, but it’s understandable. I understand that I have a more extraordinary privilege than, say, an older adult entirely alone in every sense and not just experiencing a weird yet relatively comfortable alienation. It would be understandable that I would be wallowing in despair, coming out of a proto-relationship mired in miscommunication, baggage and excessive hope to add to my troubles. Understandable but not rational.

“Let nobody any more hear you blaming palace life: don’t hear yourself blaming it.” Meditations 8.9

I’ve concluded, in this odd little way, I’m happy. I am legitimately happy. Despite my body complaining and fighting itself, I have nothing in my mind and soul to complain about. Sure, the future of going back to my job doesn’t excite me all that much, but it doesn’t exist. Nothing outside of the moment we live in exists, not really. The only thing we bring to the moment is ourselves and lessons from the past, and everything I have learned has led to this realisation of happiness. Yet, I am alone. Alas, I couldn’t give a shit.

I’m too busy to care. There are too many things to read, write, watch and think about. I am enacting purpose. There is purpose in my thought, purpose in my action, each thing in its place. The worst part of this momentum was how it began: randomly like the odd collision of two atoms in an expanse of nothingness.

So I can’t be preachy; I can’t help anyone find their moment because of its randomness and nature of being such a personal beast – like Christmas cheer, I suppose. The truth is we are islands by nature if we can find the just-right moment to see how to utilise the island’s natural resources. Sovereign islands, of personal luxury solitude. Yet, not at all alone. For all the water separating the islands, there are billions of them, each unique and each that can offer and give and share, trading ideas, lessons and life.

In the end, I suppose, removing all the fluff and analogies, with happiness, as is written on Bukowski’s epitaph: “don’t try.” Failing that, there’s always a Hugh Grant movie on Netlfix.

Happy Holidays,


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.