I've been reading Ben Kimpel's book on stoic thinking and how the notions of stoic philosophers teach us how to cope with modern life.
I'll gloss over the common misconception that stoics behaved like the Vulcans of the Star Trek universe, suppressing emotion above all things. The stoic thinkers, in their various incarnations over several centuries, instead dwelt upon learning to accept the things one could not change.
I think sometimes it's easy to live in what the novelist Ellen Gilchrst called "The Land of Dreamy Dreams". One bursts with fantasy and imagination for what ought to be. I do not consider this a flaw, but instead a useful part of being human. But when it is a engine of despair, instead of an engine of hope, then perhaps one must taste reality, and find it edible after all.
Have you ever noticed how many people writhe inside over the challenge of writing or singing or even falling in love, rather than, say, writing, or singing, or even dating?
We don't really have proper Christmas lists anymore. We just have endless wants and "needs". The United States and the other western democracies consume radical amounts of material goods, but it is not enough. We live in a culture in which both license and restriction vie for dominance, and yet neither meets the need.
I do not plan to become a "stoic". But I do learn from the notion that sometimes one must learn not only to strive to change the change-able, but also to accept those things one cannot change.
Like the old truism, the wisdom to know the difference is so key.
Maybe some ideal form of the way things truly are exists out there in the ether, of which we only see the flicker as in shadow, the way the philosopher guessed. Perhaps the abundance is all about us, as the pop theologians suggest. I'm attracted to the notion, though, that the kingdom lies within each person.
I read Silverberg's The World Within, a well-done utopian sci fi novel about a world in which social control is maintained through a society based on resource consumption and pleasure. The author makes well the obvious point that life is more than that, as appealing as that might be to some. So many times, social movements arise in reaction more than as novel movements of their own. I think that the "pleasure revolution" amounted to a delayed reaction to outmoded strictures, but inevitably once the castle gates were open and the tower emptied, somebody needlessly scorched the castle.
In the Baha i Faith, the idea exists that you can never really see God. But sometimes God sends his "mirrors", to reflect a bit of the divine light. I see the stars overhead, and I feel that a mirror glances back at me. What does it reflect? I may never learn.
Tonight I'm focused on acceptance--and change. Modification and acquiescence. Seeing what I can grasp, and what I let go.
So many times the words poorly substitute for the idea or feeling.
Perhaps that is why the night sky is available to me, to gaze up and wonder and dream and accept.