You want to know why I became a stoic? This ancient Hellenistic philosophy that later became the philosophy of Emperors until eventually Christianity stamped out most of it. I often wondered how come such a hard philosophy arose in the times it did. My only conclusion can be the numerous wars, famines and deceases the period saw. In fact it was always more popular in time of destitution and hardship than in times of glory. Austere times called for austere measures.
So it was not surprising that I found myself drawn to its depths of wisdom. In fact it rather became a blue print for how to cope when under repeated and prolonged attack. How to go on when everyone else would have found a more permanent solution to end their misery. Because in the end what is misery? Only ones own interpretation. Misery is in stoicism a way to centre yourself, a path to find inner happiness, a moment to reflect that one day we shall not be and everything is thus ephemeral. That our attachments to things, events and people are of no consequence. To be stoic you have to be ready to give up all of that – if circumstances dictates you to. Ultimately that includes life itself.
So without being specifically interested in philosophy beyond any religious, cultural and historical aspects, I found it to be the best – if not the only way – I could cope with a situation that was becoming increasingly difficult to handle. The moments great sadness overcame me, got replaces by a feeling of calm – although some might say apathy. Of course on a day like today, a few saw my all too human aspects. The tears threatening to burst the banks of my eyes. The dry throat that made speaking next to impossible. But I survived. And I made my excuses and I returned home to find peace to carry on the work day.
So that is my story in a nutshell. I do advocate it…for anyone in the midst of battle. Especially the long and protracted ones. That and the Art of War…