In church a few weeks ago, the teaching pastor was telling us we should read the bible more. He likened it to exercising at the gym. In the aggregate, going every other day for two years is the same average as going daily for one year, but not at all for the next. These two options for working out will both have some effect, but the stronger one will be the consistent one. It’s true for exercise, was true for his sermon, and needs applied to my stoicism.
With stoicism I failed at this.
Six months ago I was reading and thinking about stoicism constantly. I had finished Meditations and The Obstacle is the Way in the same month. I was just starting Seneca. I was on the Reddit.com/r/stoicism thread. Then summer came, things got busy, and my interests shifted. While I was still thinking about stoicism in general, I wasn’t diving deep to reflect on its application in my life. I remembered that Marcus About wrote something about waking. (“I have to go to work – as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for – the thing I was brought into the world to do?”) I wasn’t applying it though. That is a moving idea, but I wasn’t living it. It would be like being called a runner, without running.
My family is taking a trip to Disney this year. These have – surprisingly, because my wife and I didn’t grow up with Disney – become annual trips. Even though they happen only once a year, and even though we’re only there for a finite number of days, it’s still familiar. Our comfort and understanding is from the immersion on past trips. For a place I’ve only been to four times in my life, I’m oddly familiar with it. The transportation, food, shows. I could be dropped off at Disney and told to live there, and things would be okay (though unaffordable). There’s maybe a handful of other places I could say the same thing.
My stoicism isn’t quite that robust – yet. Like my Disney experiences, our pastors urgings, and my understanding of running, I need regular immersions into stoic thinking.
These Stoic Sunday posts will be moving from Seneca’s Letters to Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, my favorite of the stoic books. Seneca is the construction crew that finds and extracts the fossils of knowledge, Marcus is the academic who cleans them up for display. To dive deep I’ll also be re-reading the passages rather than my notes as I write each post. With Seneca’s letters, I read the book, taken notes, and then revisited the notes each week to write. With Aurelius I plan on switching to reading it again, (this will be the third time) and including ideas from this reading.
If you want to know more about Stoicism, let me know in the comments, on Twitter (@MikeDariano), or text me, (559) 464-5393.