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The Mewling Stoic

A complaint

How does one become a #Stoic? It’s the new Master-of-the-Universe spiritual brand of #SiliconValley (the #LifeHack of 2,000 years of #Buddhism lost its shine this year). Is it asserted, earned, just vacuously claimed, or inevitably acquired as one accumulates a thousand cuts? My musing is prompted by the online brays of a couple of buff college frats who badge themselves Stoics. Although not quite high-fiving and pec-bouncing their sandpit discovery, their shimmering skin, Brillianteened teeth, cascading locks and impregnably sunny dispositions simply don’t advertise Stoicism as a buffer against materialism, hedonism and, er, egotism. A small book of #MarcusAurelius’ #Meditations sits next to my bed, given to me by one of the most stoic people I know. He was a great ballet dancer and international choreographer. He kept a diary of his high school years in which he recorded just four days when he wasn’t bashed, taunted, scorned and degraded by his fellows. Can you imagine a childhood like that? Once free, he rode the exhilarating upwinds of artistic acclaim before Fortune melted his wings and he plummeted. Now, he suffers loneliness, poverty, and – well, #Icarus didn’t need another glitch besides melted wax. Stoicism is surely not just a question of age: there will be considerable stoicism, somewhat enforced, amongst the #BoysintheCave, being rescued as I write. And yet, generally, how can you understand what it is to manage despair unless you have encountered what only Time can bring: Personal failure, the betrayal of friends, inevitable misfortune, a broken heart, one’s own treacherous and weak nature, animal fear, and sadness for the tribulations of one’s siblings and children? The conditions least conducive to Stoicism are those that surround most of the people I know, including me: material well-being, buoyant good health, the buffer of abundant family and friends, political peace, and perhaps even a sense of purpose. Most people are Stoics, just for persisting. Stoicism is not a happiness recipe, nor a way to dominate others with your thriving. It’s a way to 'be' with the full cupboard that life throws. #thereisnolifehack ‘cept living.

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