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The Modern Day Stoic

Living the life of a Stoic, when you’re actually living in a world a million (actually two thousand) years away from Ancient Greece and Roman times, is a bit tricky. There are so many things going on in modern life, that try to keep you away from being the best person you can be, in Stoic terms.

You settle down to think on the day you had, and think on the things that went well, and the things that need more work. Then you think further on the actions you will take the next day, to get the work done on the not so good items from this day.

Then your husband tells you about his sudden idea, about having lunch the next day, and you agree that would be a good idea, and suddenly you’re not really sure about what on earth you will actually be doing tomorrow, and what really must be done, anyway. Perhaps you just got caught up in too much busy work, and there isn’t really anything you MUST do tomorrow?

Then there’s an online game going on, on your laptop, which is sitting on your lap as you muse your way through your thoughts, and the person playing the game with you is having a tough time at the moment, and you feel sorry for her, and want to keep her happy by playing this game against her. And you know she will beat you yet again, because 1/ she is really good at the game, and 2/ one of the reasons your game isn’t up to scratch is because your laptop mouse is sticky, and doesn’t work as quickly as you want it to.

And you know saying that is pissy-weak, even though you’ve thought about this subject off and on, since you noticed it a couple of months ago, but you aren’t really sure what you can do about the sticky mouse, or even if it really is a sticky mouse, or whether perhaps you’re doing something wrong, and that makes it not work properly. But mentioning any of this to the person who’s been kicking your arse at this game would be weak as, and you won’t do that.

She’s your friend, and you’re pleased she is obviously having a good time thrashing you, even though she’s been having chemo, and is obviously not up to scratch physically, but there’s not a thing wrong with her mine, and that’s great! And none of this has anything to do with anything that didn’t go as you wanted today, and in fact it was a good day, even in something you wanted to do, didn’t happen, it can happen another time, you have a few weeks, and even if it doesn’t happen that’s still OK.

And you’re thinking to yourself, I bet Aristotle or Marcus Aurelius never had to deal with anything like this, and then you think, hmm, well maybe they had to deal with spears that didn’t work properly, or other things, and really, dealing with ‘stuff’ and with people, they’re the same kinds of things no matter which age you’re living in, and if you truly want to live a good and Stoic life, you shouldn’t be wasting your time playing games online, you should be writing books, and intelligent thoughtful poetry, and working on your next workshop you’ll be presenting, and on other community related things.

Then you realise this game you’ve been playing online is also a community related thing, assisting your healing friend to feel worthwhile, which can be difficult when your cancer treatment made your hair fall out, and you haven’t been able to come along to your writing group to meet up with all of your friends.

So thinking on that, I’m going to finish up here, and go and do my community service, and get thrashed by my friend again, because of whatever reason (not being as good as her at it being the main reason perhaps). So goodbye, and isn’t life a weirdly twisty kind of thing, and don’t you just love it to bits! Haha, I sure do!

“You Don’t Make Friends With Salad”

Those words came from the famous Homer Simpson, of the well known animated comedy The Simpsons. If you are a fan of the Simpsons, you probably remember the words and the episode they occurred in, and even if you’re not a fan, you may well have heard the phrase.

  • This is Lahde, a dear friend, now gone, and he sure liked salad!

I can’t remember Homer’s point, with this curious proclamation, and it’s not one I necessarily agree with. I can certainly imagine a friendship that could begin with salad. Friendships are curious things, that can happen when you meet someone, and just ‘click’, feeling that finally here is a person who ‘gets’ you.

Another famous person, the philosopher Seneca, over two thousand years ago, said this about friendship:
“Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve.”

I’d never heard or read this thought, until earlier today. I have been thinking about Facebook and friendship off and on for quite a long time, really. I have real ‘see often’ friends who are also Facebook friends, and I have ‘see often’ real friends who aren’t on Facebook. I have a ridiculously large number of Facebook Friends, some of whom I don’t even remember ‘Friending’ in the first place.

I delete these occasionally, when I am having clear out in the interest of hmm, I don’t know what. Greater clarity? I’m not sure. On Facebook, the majority of my not actually true friends, FB Friends, are usually writers, or friends of friends. With some of those friends, I keep them as Friends, for the former reason, as stated by Seneca. I associate with them. These are people who have interesting things to say, or who may help to make me a better person, in some way.

The concept of being able to ‘improve’ a person is a curious one, because I’m not sure knowing me will ‘improve’ all others, but I certainly welcome into my friendship group, people who are interested in the things I’m interested in, writing, mostly. I have many writing related friends, and I welcome these are real friends, on the basis that we can actually ‘improve’ each other through our ideas, and connections.

Seneca’s words seem very sterile to me, and word has it that the man was quite the party goer, so I wonder how much improving was going on? I have no way of really knowing that, without a lot more research. Anyway, I certainly know that true friendships are far from sterile things. I have many friends I care deeply about, and love to catch up with them for coffee, chats, and hugs!

Social media opens up the entire world of possible friends, and FB Friends, as well as those on Twitter we follow and who follow us. We may never meet many of these people, but we may both, be made better by knowing them, and we may improve them. This friendship thing is truly a mixed up thing, and as I’ve seen in the past, it can go very wrong, very quickly.

But true friendships, such as the one I have with my husband, who I consider as my second best friend, these kinds of deeply committed friendships can withstand much, and still stay strong. I have been married to my husband for 33 years, and we’ve seen each other at our best, and at our worst. We both realise the importance of give and take …

Why second best friend. you may wonder, why not best friend, if our relationship is so strong? Well this is another thing – I consider myself to be my best friend. I care deeply about myself, and my best interests are an important focus of my life. I definitely believe that loving and caring about yourself helps you to become the kind of person who attracts good and caring people to your friendship group.

And yes, dogs have been great friends to me too, over the years. The dog in the photo above, Lahde, is the big brother of our current dog, Missy. Sharing our lives with dogs can show us how open and honest friendships can be. Dogs will come to you for food, yes, but they are also happy to just hang out with you, sharing your days, with no pressure, just casual ‘hanging around’ the way your best human friends can too.

So that’s it – some of my thoughts about friends. They can be tricky, they can be global, they can be in your face, and they can go wrong, but a true friend is one of the best, if not the best, thing to have in the world! Treasure your friends, they are priceless!