I was watching Ryan Holiday’s videos again and he told the story of Zeno – the proper one – and his process in founding the stoic school of thought. It got me thinking about my own journey and perhaps perspective on the collective journeys of us all. It reaffirmed to me the purpose of the philosophy, one that has become almost a reflexive action: a innate moral code much that I can’t break from like a kind of happy programming. I’m sure Jordan Peterson would have something to say about that but I’ve always been more of a fan of Obi-wan Kenobi when it comes to worldview.
So, the story of Zeno starts in Greece two thousand or so years ago. He was from a wealthy merchant family that moved between the island city states. It was decided – by him or circumstance – that the business would be moved to Athens which required putting all of the stock and money on board the one ship. I’m sure they could have done it in a few trips but why bother when one would manage just fine? In a sudden storm, Zeno was shipwrecked and lost everything aside from his own skin. Yet years later, looking back on this devastating loss, he described this as a ‘prosperous journey‘.
Well, not all of us can be so fucking glib, you may say. Well, I’ll tell you another story – warning: some grossness.
During my GCSE year at school, I was not doing well at all in Maths. I was put in a intervention class to secure a C Grade. As it turns out, pretending to know what’s going on can only get you so far so, of course, discovering that I couldn’t really tell the time from an analogue clock at 16 was an interesting experience. In this class, a girl sat in front of me and one day she lifted her hair up from the back of her neck and started scratching at a nasty looking case of psoriasis. She scratched a wad of dead skin into her hands and with a cheeky grin, turned around and decided to blow it all into my face. Never in my life have I worked so hard to pass anything to get out of that class.
So then, my experience of classroom biological warfare was prosperous.
Obviously a different catalyst to pass my Maths GCSE would have been kinder but as Jagger said, you can’t always get what you want.
Now, in my life, I am coming to an end of a rut. A year of headaches and constriction has only eleven weeks left to it before I am off to start a new chapter. Without this year, I don’t think I would have come to the same conclusions, learned the same lessons or be the same person. I am even grateful for a failed attempt at romance that lasted for half of that time.
I keep coming back to the same lessons: the Code of Jagger, the Law of Rolling Stones, etc. I don’t mind repeating myself. I hope whoever reading this doesn’t mind either. Alas:
You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find, you get what you need.
Obviously, that’s easier said than done. Or is it?
… yes it is, but you’ve got this.