Self development

Reflections, Self development, Stoic advice

The dramatic age


No Comments

We live in the era of the fabulous, have you noticed?

Open Instagram and see for yourself. Everyone is having a blast, Red Bull guys doing humanely impossible feats anyone hardly imagine himself doing. Marriages, parties, traveling, and smiling faces everywhere you look. It’s just marvelous, stupendous, glorious.

But not just that, look at the news, they are just as entertaining. The world is moving so quick! Everything seems like a movie right now, so dramatic. It’s really hard not to lose yourself in all these drama play of the fabulous.

And then, there is your life. Feels, weirdly, too normal in comparison to the fabulous lives doesn’t it? Too Quotidian.

“All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.” 
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

With all these buzz going around, it’s hard to stop for a moment and think about your life and who do you want to be in it. We are too distracted.

Ironically, stopping and reflecting about your life is, arguably, one the most important and frequent attentions you have to put in it.

With so many stupendous ways of life being portrayed at you 24/7. It’s hard stop for a moment and think about the things that truly matter to you, not to the dumb masses.

It’s relatively easy to just believe that you want the same things everyone else wants, but deep down, you know this is not true.

Say, would you like to be as extreme as one of the Red Bull guys, but, if you really want that, you have to be aware that the probabilities of dying prematurely are quite high in that career. It’s too easy to see the glory, happiness and amazement in everything. You don’t see however, the struggle and the hardships, which are the things that make anything possible. All of those are not shown on Instagram or Facebook.

More than asking, what do I want out of life, you should ask:

What am I willing to suffer for?

What things are so damn important to me, that I’m really willing to put in the hours, face the inevitable failures and still have the will to keep going?

Those are the questions that are going to give you the chance of actually being something worthy.

But we are too busy daydreaming about the too-easy-to-want-lives of Instagram stars. Too busy to reflect on what you really want for yourself. And if you keep doing this daydreaming long enough, you will end up not really knowing what you want.

“If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.” 
― Seneca the Younger

The oldest advice on earth, know thyself. But how the hell are you going to know yourself if you are more worried about other people than you?

The era of the dramatic

Everything seems to happen in one big, dramatic event. Just like in Hollywood. We are all waiting for the next candidate to step into power and change everything as soon as he gets elected, or at least that’s what they promise (because that is what we want to hear). Or meeting the love of your life one evening and falling in love forever or maybe jumping from an airplane to save the entire world from destruction. One choice, that’s it.

See, that is the problem with Hollywood. A movie has 2 hours or 3 tops to show everything it needs to show. You cannot see years in the movie, you don’t see the day to day life, you don’t see people going to take a pee every now and then, or sitting at their desk’s working for hours on end. Everything is dramatic, it’s always one big thing that changes everything.

I don’t think I have to tell you that that is not real life.

Back in the real world. We wake up, go to the restroom go through our daily routines and end the day, almost every day, with nothing terribly dramatic happening.

Movies are great, I certainly enjoy watching a good movie but the problem begins when you start thinking about your life like how you think about movies. Waiting for some dramatic change to happen.

The reality is that in real life, nothing happens dramatically, nothings happens if you don’t make it happen, absolutely nothing, nada, zero. Life just keeps going without you really participating in it.

But becoming someone you consciously choose to be and acting upon it? Ah, now we are talking, that’s truly worthwhile, but, as Seneca so well put it:

“Non est ad astra mollis e terris via” – “There is no easy way from the earth to the stars” 
― Seneca

Change takes time, lots of it. This reminds me of the tale of the two frogs.

One day, two frogs where humping around when they saw a farm and decided to go exploring. When they got there, they encountered a bucket that smelled great. They decided to get inside of it too see it for themselves. This brother-frogs where milk-lovers and the bucket was full of it! Drinking as much as they could they were now full and sleepy so they decided to get out, but, to their dismay, they realized it was too easy to hop in but now they couldn’t get out. They started to paddle, frantically. After a while, one of the frogs, said to his brother: I’m done, oh brother, there is no way we will ever make it out of here alive. The brother urged him to keep paddling although he wasn’t sure paddling would do anything to change their situation. The brother gave up and let himself sink into the milk, and drown himself. But his brother continued to paddle desperately, with tears in his eyes and after an hour, just when he was about to give up he touched something solid. The milk had become butter! He hopped out, turned back to mourn his brother and thank god for coming out alive and went back to his pond where he became a wise king.

We, just like the frogs need to learn to paddle as well.

In an age were everything seems to be quick and mighty, you need to learn the power of small, consistent, everyday action. Learn to appreciate it and to love it, because it is in those daily actions where you are going to live most of your life and it is in those daily small actions that greatness is slowly but surely brewed.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.” 
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Becoming who you want to be may seem far away right now, but it’s just a matter of starting and putting in those tiny daily actions that may seem worthless and it just too easy to give up. But glory awaits those that keep going, just like the frog.

Change those happen, gradually, consistently and it is made of all those tiny daily choices you make day to day. Don’t shun them as unimportant because they are not. Everything you do matters. Keep that in mind with everything you set your mind to.

Want one simple formula for bravery? One simple formula for bravery.

Subscribe and receive for free the Askesis ebook to further develop your practice of stoicism. 

Subscribe here

Don’t forget to visit our shop, carefully curated. Shop

Visit our Patreon page for more stoic, Patreon only content. Thanks.

Advertisements
Conquering Fears, Self development

On life navigation


1 Comment

“Often a very old man has no other proof of his long life than his age.” 
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

I think it is fair to say that we all are scared of becoming another statistic for this quote. Nothing to proof our long lives but our age.

A life of regret sounds scarier than a life filled with dangerous but rewarding experiences.

I used to be, or still am really concerned with living a vain life, a normal and boring life, filled with nothing but expectations and the constant pleasing of people. Specially because, what does living a full life even mean?

My ex-girlfriend used to ask me the question, what do you want out of life? I became mad every time she asked because to be honest, I didn’t had a precise answer, making money and marry, I guess? Please, that’s a canned answer.

I’ve come to realize that their are many things that I want out of life, just as you I’m sure, but I was to scared to actually say it out loud. I want to write a book, I want to develop my business career, have a Master’s, maybe a kid,I want to write a song. The immensity of possibility that we have is just endless.

I’ve come to realize that we are adventurers my friend, in all the heavy sense of the world.

Imagine your life as the ocean. The ocean is filled with treasures and paradisaical islands, it is filled with sharks and storms and Bermuda’s triangles as well. Navigating through the ocean is not easy, but there is hardly anything more rewarding that reaching home as Odysseus did after 10 years of being lost and facing all the challenges imaginable.

But my life is not Homer’s Odyssey you might say, but in this sense you are very wrong, because your life is just an adventure as the Odyssey, but different and unique to you and your situation. Full of trials and monsters and treasures. Presented as tax forms, business plans to be made and fail, bureaucracy, and all the obstacles you need to overcome to achieve your dreams. You are already here, and you are all in because you are going to die.

How are you living your life? Really? afraid of the monsters that might bite you if you set sail? If so, you will never get to your treasure islands, you will stay safe and boring and with nothing to prove your long life but your age.

There are many islands my friend, the fun is not so much in the treasures you’ll definitely get if you brace yourself for the adventure, but in the man/woman you’ll become by doing so, that is the true reward.

We are adventurers, we are explorers. You live a full life by responding to the calling, just start.

What do you like? What islands are you able to see from where you are? Do you see the dangers? The storms to come? Choose where you want to go and prepare to sail through the scary ocean, you might get lost, you might get bitten, but you will live and there is nothing else as good as living a full life. A unique life.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.” ― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets


If you haven’t checked out Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic, I encourage you to do so, extremely good content.

Want something else from Stoic Answers? Read: Get your hands dirty.

Subscribe and receive for free the Askesis ebook to further develop your practice of stoicism. 

Subscribe here

Visit our Patreon page for more stoic, Patreon only content. Thanks.