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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Be Good For Goodness Sake

BUT if this be done for mere ostentation, it belongs to one who looks out and hunts for something external, and seeks for spectators to exclaim, "What a great man!" Hence Apollonius said well: “If you have a mind to exercise yourself for your own benefit, when you are choking with heat, take a little cold water in your mouth and spit it out again, and tell nobody."


What a temptation it is in our age of instant notoriety to live our lives for the acclaim of others.  Michel and I found Stocism when we were dealing with the loss of three huge mentors in our lives, all in the span of 6 months.  We found comfort in reading Marcus Arelius' Meditations and began to read more, recognizing many of the values and thought patterns that we wished to emulate and encourage within ourselves and our lives together.  What a difference this philosophy has made in our lives.  The practice of hesitation, stopping before reacting to an outside event, has been a huge help when tempers could easily have taken over and amplified the negative emotions of anger or hurt.  The day to day living of Stoicism caused changes in our characters and in our ways of dealing with others on a day to day basis.  People would ask us what helped us live our lives in this way and we would answer Stoicism.  This would more often than not lead to a longer explanation of the basic principles of living that Stoic thought has gifted to the world.  

We were then asked if we would speak about Stoicism to others and it snow balled from there to presenting workshops and holding monthly sessions, creating a living breathing Stoic community in the community around us.

When reading the passage above it came to me how, now that we are a little bit recognized within the larger Stoic community, people may have the idea that we are writing blogs, keeping a website, facebook groups, twittering and helping to birth a community for the recognition, or for the "five minutes in the spotlight".  What if people looking in on us from the outside think that our motivations are for notoriety instead of the genuine motivation to teach, to share and to help others live a richer life?  What of it?  I have no control over what others think.  I can only live my life true to my deeply held convictions and keep moving forward with virtue as my guide. I live my life so that my children are motivated to live fully, to act justly and to try to leave the world a brighter place than it was before they came.  I will not be remembered long after my death but I will strive to make the world a brighter, better place while I am still in it.  That is the challenge of a Stoic.  That is a challenge that I accept.