As for everybody the last 18 months have been the weirdest I have been through. I could not have imagined that one day I would look back and say “remember the pandemic of 2020 – 5 million people died”. But I will – and I am not sure how I’ll remember it. But what I do know is that through the last 18 months a raft of things has presented itself to me and in the most part those things have been opportunities to give order to things that I have ranted about, tried to explain, thought about, and never quite been able to pin down. The philosophies of the Stoics has given me the anchor I have been looking for.
The Nobility of the Grind
I had this conversation with a friend recently. There is something noble, good, strong, about getting up everyday and doing what you have to do. For your family, for the people you love, for yourself. Tired, sore, angry – just get up and do it. Not because you want thanks or praise (as good as that feels) but because it’s what you do. Care for the people that matter – love them – because the more you put it out there the happier you will be. You will gain strength from seeing them enjoy what you do, or be better because of something you did. So just do what you have to do. Don’t complain (I complain. I’m working on it!)
“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work – as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for – the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?’” — Marcus Aurelius
Don’t waste your fucking time.
Opinions and Behaviour
For a long time I held this belief that other people’s poor behaviour wasn’t my problem and I wasn’t going to make it my problem. That was something they had to deal with – not me. And so the easy thing for me was to ignore it. Acknowledge it – yes. But then let it go and leave them to deal with their own behaviour.
Over the past few weeks I’ve learnt that it has to be more than that.
“The only thing that is not worthless in life is to do what’s right. Is to be good. And, to be patient with those that aren’t” — Marcus Aurelius
The last bit, “be patient with those that aren’t”. These situations demand more from me. It’s not enough to leave people with that behaviour. You have to find a way to show them empathy and kindness in the hope that your behaviour sets the example for them when they think about how they behave or live their life. You just have to do it. And not choose – you always do it – back to the grind bit.
That which isn’t good for the hive, isn’t good for the bee
Think about your decisions – yes I am using the vaccination example. Why did I get vaccinated ? I’m healthy and in all likelihood would survive the sickness. But it’s not about me. My wife has asthma. My daughter is 6 years old. My brother and sister are ten or eleven years older than me as are their partners. We have 30 people at our place every Christmas eve. I am part of a community. I would not be able to forgive myself if I brought the virus home or passed it on to someone I love. Or if I had to deny Christmas eve with our family for my daughter. Me – one person out of over 6 million in the state, or 26 million in the country – pretty insignificant. But as a single worker bee you do it for the hive.
Just Be Good
In the end it’s all pretty simple. Just be a good person. You know what’s right. You know what your principles are. You know what matters.
Be true to all of it. Always. Grind.