Careful With Your Choices

“Character is destiny” — Heraclitus

I took a really big guy to climb Iztaccihuatl in Mexico a while ago, I’m a mountain guide. The guy looked like a Viking. As we were gearing up, he asked me how cold the mountain got at the summit. He wanted to know if he needed to carry extra layers. I told him that it got pretty cold, around -10 Celcius. He laughed and told me that -10 was not that cold at all! He told me later that he used to be a lumberjack in the Canadian winters and that sometimes they worked at -30 degrees Celcius. ‘Jesus’, I said in surprise, ‘that sounds like a tough job dude’. ‘I know’, he said, ‘but I liked it, it certainly built character’. 

OK. So it seems, according to my small story here, that in order for you to build character, you need to go through some tough stuff, right? 

What is character anyways? 

Character: the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves: someone’s personality

Where does the word come from?

Character can be traced back to the Greek charassein, meaning “to sharpen, cut in furrows, or engrave.” This word gave the Greeks charaktēr, a noun meaning “mark, distinctive quality” (a meaning that was shared by the Latin character) — Merriam-Webster

Mark, a distinctive quality. Fair enough. 

So when my Viking friend worked in the Canadian winter, it marked him. When he says that it built character, what he meant was that going through it marked him in a way, giving him character. 

So, again, to built character, you just need to go through tough stuff, and you’re good to go apparently. I guess, but what type of character though? Is it going to be a great character? Or is it going to be a crappy character? What determines which type of character you get? 

Now, that is the question.

Tough situations will mark you and mold you. They will carve your character. But there is something else here, and that is your disposition and your response. Finally, you’ll be the one who does the carving or the one that gets carved by life. 

The one that plays, or the one that is played upon, you could say.

Rough situations provide the material. You are the molder. 

Do you want to have a great character? A mighty character? A Herculean character? You’re going to have to get your hands dirty. 

Choices

“The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is who you become.”
Heraclitus

How do you mold your clay? With your choices of course. Don’t take them lightly. What you do, day in and day out defines who you become. 

There’s really crappy pottery out there, and there’s beautiful pottery as well. 

What determines a beautiful pot? Attitude and will. 

Anyone can go through a tough situation. In fact, we all go through some really rough shit throughout our lives. But not everyone does it in a laudable way, this is key. This is also something that is completely within your control. 

How do you live your life? The answer to this question is what determines your character

Life will give you challenges. They are the clay. 

Now, are you going to do a bloody masterpiece or what?

Thanks for reading, 

Ricardo 

Subscribe and receive the Askesis (practice) e-book for free to further develop your practice of stoicism.

Subscribe here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: