“[Typically we wail] ‘How unlucky I am, that this should have happened to me!’ By no means; say rather, ‘How lucky I am, that it has left me with no bitterness; unshaken by the present, and undismayed by the future.’”
This section has two main themes as I see it. The first, being on the shortness of life, that no matter the trial or efforts spent in extending it, it is always blazingly short. The second, on which I would like to focus today, is on that the suffering of life occurs as judgments, and not as facts of themselves. The quote I pulled for today leans us that way.
This has been one of those tenets of Stoicism that has been gathering rust on my tool bench. It’s a strange one, because from the outside it seems impossible. But, once you take up the lens, and begin to examine in the world, it sees self-evident. “Why is this physical affliction happening to me? Woe is me!” is so entirely different from “this body falls apart, but nothing eternal has been lost.” It could be, that in looking at my Stoic tools, since I’m sliding into something akin to a well worn pair of shoes, they fit. I don’t remember finding this as simple a chance in the past as it seems today.
Every being on this planet, and likely in the cosmos, suffers. Or so it seems to me. All life requires death, and so far as we know, only humanity has the meta-awareness to observe this. And so the suffering *means* something to us. You can see pain in a dog, and you can see learned behaviors of avoidance, anxiety, etc. This is often heartbreaking to many of us. Yet, that same dog sets those signals of emotion aside when his favorite human enters the room. He’s not plagued by the thing once it has left, or been replaced by something else.
That seems to be a human characteristic.
Yet, we too can set those aside, especially when they have been incorrectly assented to. Is this pain of the leg an evil? No, it’s a pain of the leg. The fact that I cannot walk well today means I’ll be a bit slower. I no longer hear well, so I ask for some help, I use tools to aid me, I learn a new language, and make new friends as well.
That’s been something I haven’t discussed on the blog much at all, but I’ve been having some changes in my hearing as a result of childhood and genetic issues. As such, I’ve been wearing amplifiers, learning American Sign Language, and making new friends in the Deaf community. Such is life, it sometimes takes us down unexpected paths.
I mourned the loss of my hearing for some time, quite a while actually. I quit going out to see friends, I got angry and bitter. Now I have some projects to work on, increasing my proficiency with ASL, meeting new people, and learning to navigate what is becoming to me, a new normal.
Hopefully I can be the rock Marcus wishes for himself, while the waves crash around it only to fall still once more. And all of us making progress can pick back up a tool we’ve laid aside.
This post is part of Michel Daw’s Reading Plan of Marcus’Meditations.