How ya been, Mr. ‘Mudge?
How’s that mountain air, the wildlife and the local burgers treating you?
I’ll tell ya, it’s been a hella strange mix of spring into summer this year. Weeks of slogging through a dull, mundane existence, punctuated by bizarre spikes of unpleasantness. A crazy ice storm and loss of power and internet. My daughter rushed to the hospital for emergency appendectomy. The ever constant drone of Rust code in my mind and last weekend’s 115F degree heat. And of course there was the month after month of writer’s apathy and far too much television/youtube. Yes, I think one can definitely consume too much TV — life’s emotion and experiences fed vicariously through an aural/visual IV losing much of its punch and verve along the way.
And how can one forget the constant hum of covid news that appears to be finally dwindling. Being vaccinated certainly takes the pressure off keeping current on that front.
These days, I’m feeling around, like a mole probing for earthworms, wondering if I can write my way out of indifference. As I do, of course, I begin to ponder the philosophical aspects of the task. This latest is simple: can a Stoic, who prides himself on attenuating the highs and lows of existence, ever write passionately about anything?
If one never allows oneself to feel the ecstasy or the misery how can one possibly communicate such emotions through words? Can you write of pure joy without ever experiencing ecstatic bliss? Can you write of raging hatred if you’ve never let abhorrent loathing consume you? Even if only through imagination, could a Stoic ever allow himself to drift out of his narrow channel of calm acceptance?
Are the best writers always impassioned humans?
Stay cool my friend,
For all who participated, we enjoyed thirty days of Stewie the Stoic’s take on Seneca’s philosophy of being a Stoic. Specifically, about fifty of Sececa’s letters to Lucilius, an acolyte and fellow, budding Stoic.
Death & Fortune
These were the two dominant topics that we found in nearly every writing example we analyzed. If we weren’t discussing the actual End, we were talking about our “awareness of self” along the way—to the End. That, in addition to how fortune (or misfortune) taunts us into betraying ourselves.
These will be the points with which I’ll be stumbling away, drunk on philosophy.
- I will die. When, matters little. How one manages the approach and final act will set the tone for one’s daily well-being.
- In the mean time, live in self awareness of the origin and intent of my desires: be not their slave, but neither their master.
- Fortune comes in many flavors: fame, riches, luck, comfort. Neither pursue its presence nor lament its absence. That which benefits, accept with humility; that which diminishes receive with fortitude.
That’s pretty much it, for now.
Thanks for tagging along.
[Quote courtesy of Seneca]
[Although Seneca was a rich old bastard, we’ll have to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to understanding how one might separate one’s fortune from one’s pursuit of what he calls philosophy. In order to develop a “love of wisdom”, money need not influence one’s progress. Although, I’d bet that being frickin’ rich makes it one hell of a lot easier to pretend to be poor than actually being poor.
On the flip side, having disdain for the finer things in life, that is, being poor, might jade one to believe they can attain their wisdom all the more readily as they have no bright, sparkly objects to distract them.
The one thing I find curious in reading all of these pontifications is, jeeze, they sure had a lot of time to pontificate over the smallest of topics. Yeah, I’m wasting a few minutes here and there on this endeavor. But, the effort these Stoics put into just being Stoic, from what I can tell, hell, I’d like to have a life like that.]
[Quotes provided by Seneca]
[Up from the ashes,
up from the ashes,
grow the roses of success.
Grow the ro, grow the ro, grow the roses…
Sing it with me now.]
[Quotes courtesy of a proverb that Seneca in turn quotes]
[Seneca lays claim to Lucilius’ progress but reciprocates with the admission that merely beginning an undertaking, to become wise, good or content is far more important than one might think. Certainly, tenacity must see you through, especially in the face of adversity. But the most adverse condition we often encounter is our own reticence to get up and out the door.]