Stoicism and Serenity

On finding a better way to live…

I had started, several years ago, reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and I have always been interested in the ideas of Stoic philosophy.  Looking through Amazon recommendations on the Stoics, I decided to order the works of Seneca, a different translation of Meditations (my other one is currently in storage), and the Dialogues of Epictetus.  I have begun reading the latter and what surprises me is how commonsensical most of his philosophy is, and yet how powerful it feels to read it.  It may be some sweet spot of the stage I am at in my life, or the situation in which I find myself adrift in a foreign country, but it speaks to me in a profound way, this ideal of hard-won nonchalance and quiet strength.  It is all the rage right now to amass victimhood and trauma, and to score status points by undercutting the validity of the issues that others face, but Stoicism as a philosophy is based around the exact opposite idea – that life, though valuable, is only worth living if one keeps hold of the ideals of self-knowledge, self-restraint, and adherence to a moral code that uplifts and esteems the self and others alike.

I will probably write more entries on this theme as I explore the philosophy more fully.  It was an interesting dovetail, reading the Classical philosophers while reading Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full, as the Dialogues of Epictetus are integral to both the plot and the character development of the work.  This entry is short, as I am short on time tonight, but I will return to Stoicism again.