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Tag / Stoics

Miles Davis, So What, and being in accord no matter the chord

This story that opens jazz great Herbie Hancock’s memoir, Possibilities, is profound: I’m onstage at a concert hall in Stockholm, Sweden, in the mid-1960s playing piano with the Miles Davis Quintet. We’re on tour, and this show is really heating up. The band is tight—we’re all in sync, all on the same wavelength. The music […]

Marcus Aurelius explains your options

A timely reminder from Marcus Aurelius: “Everywhere, at each moment, you have the option: to accept this event with humility to treat this person as he should be treated to approach this thought with care, so that nothing irrational creeps in.” Another translation of that first line reads: “Always and everywhere, it depends on you […]

Sunday night Stoic: Forward progress

Meditations 8.7: “Nature of any kind thrives on forward progress. And progress for a rational mind means not accepting falsehood or uncertainty in its perceptions, making unselfish actions its only aim, seeking and shunning only the things it has control over, embracing what nature demands of it—the nature in which it participates, as the leaf’s […]

Sunday night Stoic: Step one and step two

Meditations 8.5: “The first step: Don’t be anxious. Nature controls it all. And before long you’ll be no one, nowhere—like Hadrian, like Augustus. The second step: Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands […]

How fragile we are

  All life is sorrowful, or ultimately unsatisfactory. Heartbreak is coming your way, no matter how good life may seem at the moment. The deeper you get into life and the more you experience, the more you realize—whether you allow yourself to acknowledge it consciously or not—pain is inevitable. You will lose those you love dearly. […]

Sunday night Stoic: Seize the day

Meditations 6.32: “I am composed of a body and a soul. Things that happen to the body are meaningless. It cannot discriminate among them. Nothing has meaning to my mind except its own actions. Which are within its own control. And it’s only the immediate ones that matter. Its past and future actions too are […]

Sunday morning Stoic: Postpone nothing

“There is indeed a limit fixed for us, just where the remorseless law of Fate has fixed it; but none of us knows how near he is to this limit. Therefore let us so order our minds as if we had come to the very end. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s account […]

Sunday night Stoic: How to act

Remember, Meditations was written by Marcus Aurelius as a sort of ongoing “note to self” while he was the Roman emperor, essentially the most powerful and influential person in the western world at the time. He’s not lecturing someone else. He’s exhorting himself, calling for his own best, reminding himself of the kind of man […]

Sunday morning Stoic: A formula for savoring life

The author William Irvine (whose book, A Guide To The Good Life, is a great introduction to Stoic thought) shared the Stoic formula for happiness in this post on Stoicism Today. Here’s the formula: X = the number of days you have left to live It’s not exactly a formula, just a reminder that each of us […]

David Letterman and the power of turning obstacles into fuel

I’m of the Letterman generation. I began college the same year Late Night debuted on NBC. Better observers of television and comedy have better summed up why Letterman is significant. (I love Jimmy Kimmel’s take.) But to me he was just real. He didn’t treat television like it was a big deal, and he didn’t treat people […]

Sunday morning Stoic: The shortest route

Meditations 4.51: “Take the shortest route, the one that nature planned—to speak and act in the healthiest way. Do that, and be free of pain and stress, free of all calculation and pretension.” No games. Don’t overthink. Just say what is essential. Do the right thing.

Stoic Zen: The glass is already broken

Kottke shared this paragraph from Mark Epstein’s book Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy From a Buddhist Perspective: “You see this goblet?” asks Achaan Chaa, the Thai meditation master. “For me this glass is already broken. I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful […]

Sunday morning Stoic: Only the present

A crisp, bright, quiet spring Sunday morning. A cup of tea (coconut) and Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. A Sunday morning ritual for me. It’s hard to open this book without reading a passage that delights or challenges and refreshes my mind with its clarity and straightforward insight. This passage today, 8.35: “Don’t let your imagination be […]

Thursday night Stoic: Wanting what you have

Meditations 7.27: “Treat what you don’t have as nonexistent. Look at what you have, the things you value most, and think of how much you’d crave them if you didn’t have them.” This is a great way to focus on wanting what you have instead of having what you want. Assess your life, and realize […]

Monday night Stoic: Take Antoninus as your model

Meditations 6.30: “Take Antoninus as your model, always. His energy in doing what was rational … his steadiness in any situation … his sense of reverence … his calm expression … his gentleness … his modesty … his eagerness to grasp things. And how he never let things go before he was sure he had […]

Becoming Steve Jobs: Adversity and failure before triumph

  The new, much-hyped biography, Becoming Steve Jobs, was released yesterday, and my pre-ordered copy was on my porch when I got home last night. This is the rare book that I’m choosing to purchase as a physical book instead of an ebook. The advance praise was sufficient enough and the topic is one I […]

Sunday evening Stoic: Good fortune

Meditations 5.37: “I was once a fortunate man but at some point fortune abandoned me. But true good fortune is what you make for yourself. Good fortune: good character, good intentions, and good actions.” Good character. Good intentions. Good actions. These you can control.  What happens to you, not so much. How you respond, all […]

Cinderella’s Stoic virtues: Courage and kindness

I took my wife and daughters to see the new live-action Cinderella movie yesterday. I’m no movie critic, but I thought it was really good. It’s visually sumptuous. The costume design, the sets, the locations, the sweeping camera movements all were dazzling and crafted on an epic scale. Kenneth Branagh, the Shakespearean actor, directed and […]

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