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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Today's Stoic reading was a passage from Epictetus...  "
HE is free who lives as he likes; who is not subject either to compulsion, to restraint, or to violence; whose pursuits are unhindered, his desires successful, his aversions unincurred. Who, then, would wish to lead a wrong course of life? — "No one." Who would live deceived, prone to mistake, unjust, dissolute, discontented, dejected? — "No one." No wicked man, then, lives as he likes; therefore neither is he free. And who would live in sorrow, fear, envy, pity; with disappointed desires, and incurred aversions? — "No one." Do we then find any of the wicked exempt from sorrow, fear, disappointed desires, incurred aversions?—"Not one." Consequently, then, not free. -
EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §1, ¶1"
 My response to this passage was "To live purposefully and with gratitude for all that we have in life. Therein lies the path to true freedom."

Freedom, such an interesting word which can mean so many different things to different people.  Freedom to worship in whatever manner we see fit and whatever deities we revere.  Freedom to get an education.  Freedom to live a purposeful life.  In our western industrial world we have so many freedoms that others in the world can only dream of having.  Not many of us are falsely imprisoned or held in abject poverty with no chance of escape through self-improvement, education or just good old fashioned hard work.  We live in a country that is full of possibilities if we are willing to take chances, step out of our comfort zones and work hard for a dream.  We are the lucky ones as the only things that hold us back from achieving our dreams are our decisions or lack of them.  We enslave ourselves with our inability to strive for more.  We enslave ourselves when we become chained down by debt or responsibilities that we did not think about the consequences of incurring at the moment that we signed the bottom line.

We can be free if we can reach forward towards our dreams.  We can be free if we practice the principle of gratitude on a daily basis.  We may not live in a dream condo or a mansion in Rockcliffe Park but we have a roof over our head, a lawn to mow and  a comfortable bed to sleep in at night.  Gratitude for all the blessings that we have, that is the way to contentment.  To live each day with a purpose instead of aimlessly drifting through one moment to the next.  To walk forward with gratitude and purpose in every step.