The works of Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca have greatly impacted my perspective over the last year. An introduction through Ryan Holiday’s works, The Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy (one of my ‘Must Reads of 2016’), and Daily Stoic; stoicism provides a balance of both guidance and uncertainty which instills resiliency. Uncertainty in that many questions arise and opportunities for self reflection and self evaluation as we navigate life.
Each Sunday, I intend on sharing a passage from one of the stoics with a couple of thoughts and initial reactions. Here we go.
Some men have shrunk so far into dark corners that objects in bright daylight seem quite blurred to them.
-Seneca, ‘Letters from a Stoic,’ Letter III.
Things in life just are. As we interpret these things; our individual emotions, experiences, and perspectives offer meaning. Ever meet someone who always interprets an event as something negative? Hell, you can donate to charity, purchase someone a cup of coffee, but there will always be someone who looks at it through the lens of negativity.
“Oh, they just did that for themselves.” So what.
Hell, I have caught myself doing it, too. Professional athletes give huge donations to charity, but a more cynical Pat would just decry these athletes were doing it for a tax write off. Purity of intent? There is still a charity receiving six figures from the athlete. Colin Kaepernick pledged $1,000,000 over 10 payments of $100,000. Many STILL complained that his action (or inaction) was not justified. To these individuals – when was the last time you donated $1,000,000 or provided $1,000,000 worth of your time to a charitable cause?
No matter how bright the object shines, their darkest recesses will paint a grim picture – these people must be avoided at all costs. Their misery spreads like wild fires through their narratives and rhetoric.
As we act our lives with intention, view the world as it is and nothing more. Some will confine into dark recesses, while others will be drawn to the light (Star Wars reference). Being mindful of each end of this spectrum provides balance in order to remain centered as we encounter others, but most importantly, as we encounter ourselves.