Epictetus, stoics, and trouble

My dear mother was recently puttering around her kitchen singing the Dave Matthews  song, “Trouble,” in this gorgeously eery voice. Every note was pitch perfect, resonant. Which is weird for her, because when she’s consciously trying to sing she tends to be off key, but I digress. La Mama’s magical voice is not the only thing weird going on.

Politics are crazy right now. Not to mention, ordinary life is hard. People get ill, pass away, go through STUFF. You know what I mean. These are the times when Stoic philosophy a la Marcus Aurelius (Read his meditations for free on MIT’s archive here) and Epicetus really matter (if you’re in a scholarly mood, check Epicetus out).

Stoicism doesn’t mean “RUN THROUGH THE PAIN” or “WALK IT OFF” like your high school coach told you. It means that trouble, challenge, is an opportunity for learning, and ultimately, growth.

There’s a bible verse my mom likes, since we already mentioned her singing habits (she’s a cool old lady, okay?). It’s this:

All things work together for good for those who love the lord and are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

Now, this doesn’t mean that all things ARE good. Some things, quite obviously, are shit. But someday, somehow, if you keep on going and keep on loving and trying and growing long enough, flowers may grow from that shit, and you’ll have a whole garden.

Or, as they said in Latin, in the days of the stoics:

Dolor hic tibi proderit olim: Someday this pain will be useful to you. – Ovid.

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