| THE STOICS BLOG |
Welcome to my blog. In the early versions of this site, it was a simple journal where I can express my ideas, rant about stuff and share some things that interest me to people who are interested in them as well. Over time, I’ve taken it upon myself to go on several (failed) journeys which have been chronicled here.
But this year, I have taken it upon myself to recognize the journey I’ve gone through, including the mistakes that caused me to reboot the thought process of the posts here, and it has led me to adopting formally a way of thinking that I have had since the beginning but never really grew to be it’s best version.
An ancient philosophy whose tenets are still revered today. It assumes that human beings live in a world of natural order, and that the cause of distress and other problems in life is failure to recognize or adhere to this natural order. By recognizing the value of reason, one can become one with this order and thus achieve peace.
When one values reason, one recognizes that there are things that are within your control, which you can fix, modify or redirect; but more importantly, there are things that are outside your control and power.
And I am fully embracing this philosophy, to become better connected to the world. Thus this blog is about the life of a stoic.
| BECOMING A STOIC|
Before, my concept of happiness stems from a different kind of control. One that follows a very different kind of control; deceit and manipulation. This stems from my fascination towards the power of certain kinds of actions towards other people; by how one behaves and speaks, certain reactions can be elicited, often in the person’s favor. So at a young age, I learned how to be charismatic.
I could speak eloquently, to form phrases and sentences that made other people see me as a man of the world: competent & capable. This has allowed me to enter certain social circles through simple charm & wit, and I have survived my whole life through various encounters thanks to my skills.
I completed my college degree and masters by being eloquent, but not necessarily competent. I jumped from one lie after the next that I learned how to form stories with such congruence that reality practically disappeared. I reinvented my past, making me seem a lot more interesting which led me to my first job as a teacher. I’ve used the same techniques to gain favors in the political structure of a work environment, and life was going my way.
I had a high paying job, I was popular, I was in-demand. But the more I rejected reality to the delusion that I had fabricated in my mind, slowly but surely, reality will find a way to break through. I bullshitted my way through various stages of my life for years, never to experience the consequences of my actions until the day that pretending no longer worked.
I had seen this coming, but refused to act on it.
Steven Covey introduces ‘7 Habits’ by demonstrating the great failure of social shortcuts, of miracle instant solutions to problems, that in one way or another, the lack of true competence will show it’s limits eventually. Covey said that true effectiveness stems from developing virtue, which is consciously cultivated to develop the habits of effective living. And I never developed this virtue. Instead of creating true social bonds with other people through hard work of ‘getting to know’, I got by with a big plastic smile and manipulative conversation tools to instantly get people to like me. I spent more time stretching the capacity of one skill in it’s most basic level instead of practicing it and growing it to a true level of mastery.
I was a house of cards that relied on one trick for growth, and at the end of 2015, I came tumbling down.
- Because of my lack of higher level certifications, I couldn’t get pass the tenure committee in the university. And instead of owning up to my failure, I blamed the political atmosphere being rigged against me. I became a victim, who needed something outside me to take responsibility for my inadequacies.
- Because I never really learned anything else from the years of teaching, I spent the whole year stumbling around to get a job only to end up no where. I lived in a delusion that I had collected everything I need to go anywhere, only to find myself overqualified for menial jobs and underqualified for jobs I believed I deserved.
- Because of my inability to truly get to know people, I was surrounded by people who I don’t really know and who never really knew me. During hard times, all I got were meaningless platitudes and no empathy. My friends ‘pretended’ to know my pain, but their inability to help me left me realizing how shallow a lot of my friendships really are. After being alive for 27 years, I have no real friends, just people whose existence I acknowledge.
The bullshit I piled up over the years have come crashing down. Because I relied on the power of shortcuts, of quick fixes. I borrowed strength from a source I knew was not sustainable, and I became dependent, and this led to my fall.
Duct Tape can’t stop a crack on the wall from bringing it all down.
I was reaching rock bottom and the only thing keeping me from falling was this opportunity to work overseas. But in the past few months, I contemplated on how I reached so low, and I recognize that relying on the same tactics I did in the past will surely lead me back here, and maybe deeper.
So I re read my books, the ideas of modern masters. What have I missed or forgotten that brought me to where I am now? I realized that I was picking out the advice that interested me, and discarded those I found too boring, or required too much work, or unrealistic for me. This was a mistake.
I thought I was too smart for these books, or that I already knew (or was aware) of the lessons, and instead of learning from them, I was judging them. I read books to find flaws in the narrative or the advice in general, and my hubris kept me from learning. So I began working on this, I began reading and rereading, so that I could get the most of the message. I began listening to more podcasts, and relistening, and this led me to a previous episode of ‘The Art of Manliness Podcast’ with Ryan Holiday and about the mantra: “The Obstacle is the Way”. Holiday talked about how adversity has the capacity of allowing us to reach higher levels of ourselves, and that we should embrace the hardships to become our better selves.
I was intrigued by this mantra, that I began learning more about Ryan Holiday (all I knew about him was through his book: “Trust Me I’m Lying”), and I found that he was a follower of Stoicism.
“What is stoicism?” I asked myself.
This question has had me obsessed about philosophy, and in recent weeks, Brett McKay had more history focused episodes, the intrigue grew larger with each week. I discovered Seneca which led me to my current (22.12.2016) ancient mentor: The Emperor Marcus Aurelius. With my research on stoicism expanding my view, I came to realize how Stoicism mirrored a lot of my previous life values, of letting go of things you can’t control, of keeping your emotions in check. I violated many rules of Stoicism, but seeing myself in certain aspects made me want to embrace it fully.
It was a few days after that, when I decided that I will become a Stoic. I say ‘become’ because I have come to learn that change should not happen overnight. That it is a journey, that just because I declare myself Stoic does not make me one. I have to work for it, and thus it lead me to reshaping this blog into that which demonstrates the life of a modern day Stoic.