Eclectic stoicism:a response to Eddie by Weary Locomotive
I am WL, and if I knew you in person my advice to you would be different. But imagine, for your own sake, that for the next few paragraphs I am Lord Almighty, and further imagine, in as much vivid detail as possible, that I am thoroughly angry with you and am about to deliver a kick that you’ll be sorry you wished for.
So you are a pathetic, despondent victim, stooping so low as to consider SUICIDE on your sweaty to-do list. You don’t have a lady friend. You are not an achiever though you KNOW you have an agile mind. What are all these symptoms telling you? That’s right! You are sick.
You are sick! Your body is full of destructive ideas and patterns of behavior that have taken a hold of you and multiplied, much like an invading virus. You can observe this fact and decide to find somebody to blame: your appearance, your environment, your peer group, your parents, your country and so forth, but these are as you’ll find only a temporary relief. After all, who blames the streets you walk for giving you a cold (although in your case it’s more like a plague of the soul).
How have you deserved all this, I’m sure you never did anything really wrong, you were a peaceful reader of books, the kind of person others will label “trustworthy” even if they think you’re a little aloof? Why? I’m here to tell you that the reasons are injustice, hypocrisy, common stupidity. Your intuition was right, you could sure use some good advice right now because there’s an important choice you have to make for yourself. You can decide to fail, and try to have a happy life of following what other people tell you(the far easier solution that can get you a “good life”); or you can decide to succeed, and over time become strong enough to be in control of who you are. What you now think of as “independence” is a counterfeit coin which as you discovered buys you nothing. But does this mean the real thing is impossible? On the contrary – it means the real thing is harder to get and thus much more rewarding.
I don’t care how eclectic you think you are, I like to place my bets with the best odds. The odds are against you at around six thousand million to 1. Let me ask you something, how many people do you know? Throughout your entire life, how many people did you meet, read or hear about? Just venture a guess. 100? 200? 300? 1000? There are people somewhere RIGHT NOW that are interested in the same things you are and probably happen to be immensely better at it than you are. There are also people with interests such that you never suspected, but if only you did somehow find out about them, you would share their passion and ‘discover another dimension to your life’. I could go on with such numerical optimism, but I think you get the idea. Ultimately, calculations won’t make a difference – you imagining what you now think of as impossible as if it was real potential, dependent only upon your will, makes a big difference. Do you know why you are morbid and lonely? Because that’s how you intellectually view your existence: with that sterile and puffed-up seriousness on heavy stub-like feet. Me… oh that’s a complicated, very complicated difficult subject…not to be brought up during dinner or other situations demanding pious decency. Don’t get me wrong, this might be precisely what you need and want in your life: but you didn’t choose it, did you? It just fell out of the books you read and the air you breathe and solidified into something so ugly you can’t even look at it any more.
Teach your soul to dance, Eddie. It’ll not happen overnight, but make it a decision. Decide now to succeed no matter what. Learn to take yourself lightly, with cheerful malice and perhaps a tinge of the tragic, and paradoxically, more seriously than the others. Deep down you probably realize even now that the ball you mentioned is not at all as important as your friends currently make out it to be. Same with having lady-friends all packaged and ready to brag about at all times. You’ll discover that a lot of the time the majority of your friends will be completely wrong. This must become acceptable to you, acceptable and agreeable. Let them think you are wrong if they want. Here you must teach yourself how to feel complete and fulfilled when no-one gave you permission to do so, and to be able to ignore the poisons your culture will feed to you expecting that you’ll buy in. Have you seen these men, with their foreheads caved in traditionally as soon as an attractive woman enters their sight? Have you seen that attractive woman, wearing her cosmetic charms consumeristicly and immodestly, like a magic wand that’s supposed to get her things? Are these lasting values? Is this the society you want to live in and become more alike with? What are your values? You must decide.
This isn’t the end here – I wanted to supply a small amount of momentum; hopefully it aligns with some of your own thoughts and intuitions, for it’s up to you to resolve to change, invent and carry out the necessary discipline and tasks. It may be important to find good examples for yourself to follow. A step at a time, you’ll can become someone you are proud to be, confident in your power and capacity to commit to things sincerely. It will be similar to training a muscle you didn’t know you had, hard at first – but the result, true independence is in my opinion worth it. Incidentally, muscles are a good place to begin; when you find an effective way to change your physique, you’ll notice many other changes happen with it in parallel. I hope by now it is clear though that I’m not admonishing you to throw away the books and become a jock; muscles can be trained for cosmetic appearance and show, or they can be trained for precision and action. There is nothing new in what I say here, for every individual philosophy of HEALTH whether ancient or modern will include similar principles. Good luck. One final question for you: if you knew that you could not fail, what are three things you would do now to improve your condition?