The comparison to athletic training is an apt one, since we often use it to discuss philosophical training. Sickness seems to present itself as an “earlier than we expected” excericse. Like the gym or the dojo, we train in the school of philosophy, but our training is meant to be carried out and used in the real world. We sweat in the gym to avoid bleeding in the street.
Sickness, then, for the new philosopher can seem like a post-graduate exam when we’re really just getting our feet wet in the general curriculum of under-grad. But it’s not up to us when such challenges are presented.
So let us also win the way to victory in all our struggles, – for the reward is not a garland or a palm or a trumpeter who calls for silence at the proclamation of our names, but rather virtue, steadfastness of soul, and a peace that is won for all time, if fortune has once been utterly vanquished in any combat.
This section stuck out at me when I was in pain. It was these couple lines that rallied my spirit when instead I was wallowing in self-pity.
Do you think that you are doing nothing if you possess self-control in your illness? You will be showing that a disease can be overcome, or at any rate endured. There is, I assure you, a place for virtue even upon a bed of sickness. It is not only the sword and the battle-line that prove the soul alert and unconquered by fear; a man can display bravery even when wrapped in his bed-clothes.
Thank you for the words.