Pastures New

I’ve been away for a while thanks to work, hobbies and writing. Life has found its way to keep me on my toes and busy enough to be able to shy away from the crushing sense of loneliness that I so smugly dismissed over Christmas time. To be fair to my past self, I had Hugh Grant movies on repeat.

I discovered a great tragedy of time that actually I found to be very amusing. I have spent two years achieving a qualification that is entirely irrelevant to the process of what my true goals are. In the stoic sense, the momento mori that ticks of the days of my life to the end would feel rather pointless. Wasted and lost, my early twenties swallowed up by a smug and dismissive management structure. While yes I did find love of a romantic sense in this time, I now suffer from that irritating curse of what I very much believe to be unrequited love and am stuck in a situation of silence. Yet, even as I see my money dwindle on piss-poor pay and my mental health decline from having to re-live my teenage years living with my parents, I find the whole thing rather darkly funny.

As I look over at pastures new, my application processes in the works and hope in my heart, I feel nothing but a profound sense of amusement.

You could, I suppose, chalk it up to divine timing. We could say that we all experience years of being stuck in ourselves, trapped in our own paradigms until the tipping point. When we reach this point, we look back and laugh and how silly the whole thing was in the first place. But would I give the time back? Would I hop in my TARDIS and change my own timeline for a more streamlined life experience? No of course not.

That’s the funny thing, even more so than how little my current applications care about the two years of work. It’s the acceptance I feel. Perhaps it is a universal experience regarding how we look back on our lives not with regret but a bemused shrug, if not pride at least. Then we can ask ourselves, I suppose, even in stagnation are we ever really stagnating or just slow-moving. Each day we make progress as small as it seems. I’ve spoken about this before, this phenomenon but I think that each time I’m reminded of it, it’s worth mentioning. Not just for me, but for whoever reads this.

“What is your profession? Being a good man.” – Meditations 11.5

Despite the dead-end job and the laughable excuse of a pay-scale, and the shitshow that is finding a life partner in 2022, Marcus Aurelius here, still 1842 years after his death, is right. It doesn’t matter what we do as long as we can say we are doing our best in each moment to be the best we can be.

So, in my final thoughts after my hiatus, I ask of you, the reader to ask yourself to be the best you can be. If you are doing anything in your life just doing your best and trying to be your best is all anyone or anything – divine or otherwise – can ask of you.

Between you and me, if being your best means napping for at least three hours a day to attempt that, then I salute you. I need at least an hour, myself.

Z3N0

The Stoic Employee

Today I had an interview to determine whether or not I would be in continued employment or not. Before hand I was asked by several people if I was worried or if I was panicked. The answer was and is no. My body may have been full of adrenaline before the talking part but ultimately, the stoic employee is not worried. The stoic employee does their best and knows that is the only aspect of the role that they can control so worrying about what exists without that control is a waste of everyone’s time.

We are not career people, in my opinion. Ambition and pride are deceivers of ones own ability in life as well as office. Ambition is not a welcome thing in my life, yet purpose is. I said to my interviewer:

“I don’t want to be climbing the highest mountain of financial and career success if that is not my path, I want to perfect the service I can provide from the ground I’m on now” – Z

How can I do my job efficiently, with purpose and virtue if my entire mission is to climb up? Of course it’s nice to be recognized but that doesn’t affect my virtue either. Confucius speaks about this quiet effectively with the subject of office being important during his time of Ancient China.

“The Master encouraged Qidiao Kai to take office. Qiadiao replied, ‘I am not confident I am ready to take this step.’ The Master was pleased.” – Analects 5.6

“The Master said, ‘Do not worry that you have no official position. Worry about not having the qualifications to deserve a position. Do ot worry that others do not know of you. Seek to be worthy of being known.” – Analects 4.14

“Ziyou said, ‘In serving your ruler, if you reproof is unrelenting and tiresome you will end up being humiliated. If you are that way with your friends, they will drift away from you.” – Analects 4.26

While there are key differences in the stoic school compared to the practice of Confucianism, ultimately some core principals overlap with the seeking of a balanced and moral approach to life and each other. In office how can one do this without an ability to see truth within themselves. If you are not qualified for a role, do not go for it. In times of need, you will adapt like all humans. As I said to my interviewer when asked about my ability to reflect and develop my professional skill set:

“If I’m not learning, I’m dead. Growth, in my opinion is not just for the trees.” – Z

Amazing that I got the job right? My feedback however was that I have a reputation for having a black and white outlook, that when I speak and the hammer of judgement comes down that it’s final. Perhaps it was my reaction to the formality and the process that added a little strictness to my tone but it was something new that I’d never considered before. When asked on my practice and how I respond to mistakes, perhaps my response gave proof to the allegation:

“There are no mistakes. I have grown and learned lesson and adapted from the missteps so I don’t begrudge them. How can I? When faced with something where I’ve gone wrong, I can only adapt and learn from it, what else can I do?” – Z

Most likely a fair comment but, as is the right thing to do, I accept the criticism and adapt to meet it with the help and support that they can provide me.

“We all work together to the same end, some with conscious attention, others without knowing it – just as Heraclitus, I think, says that people asleep are workers in the factory of all that happen in the world.” – Meditations 6.42

Find your purpose and service and a career will form around you. Don’t go looking for a career without service or purpose or it will be a hollow and fleeting thing.

Love your purpose, love your service. Be a stoic employee which is to say not blindly shut up and put up with bad practice. It is to act with the stoic disposition of moral integrity for the self and the Whole in what you give to the world.

Of course, a decent pay is always nice, helps with the roof over my head. Yet to quote Seneca:

“… thatch makes a person just as good a roof as gold.” – Letters from a Stoic XIII

Z3N0