The Marriage of the Coyote Woman ATW
The Death of the coyote woman atw
Now for something completely different:
Word of the day · Today
attractive or appealing in appearance.
"he was not a prepossessing sight"
attractive · beautiful · pretty · handsome · good-looking · fetching · striking · [more]
It’s easy for power to go to your head. You see all the people that work for you and think you’re important. You fill out that online survey and find out that, hey, for what you make and where you live, you’re in the 1% or 10% or top 50% of earners. When you look at who is beneath you, who you’re doing better than, ego creeps in. Being someone’s “superior”—whether that’s a superior officer or just a superior salesman—makes us feel superior.
The writer Plutarch reminds all leaders that they must check against this impulse. “You are a governor,” he writes, “but you yourself are also governed, you lead a city that is subject to the proconsul who is the representative of Caesar… You must not think too highly of or place too much trust in your crown, since you can see the proconsul’s boots above your head.”
What was so impressive about Marcus Aurelius was that even though he was the head of a powerful empire, he sought to actively look for what was above him, where the limits of his authority were. By that he didn’t just mean death—though he wrote about the humbling, equalizing effects of mortality too. He was one of the first emperors to defer to the Senate. He never demanded funds, only requested them. My family owns nothing, he said, not even this house we live in. It belongs to you. After he was named Hadrian’s heir, he still submitted to his philosophy teachers, choosing to visit them rather than make them come to him—a sign that he believed he was still beneath them.
So when reflecting on whatever power or prestige you have accumulated, try to think of his example. If you’re a head coach, remember that you can be fired by the athletic director and the president of the university. If you’re a cop, that the chief can bust you down a rank or suspend you. A lawyer, that the bar determines your ability to practice. Even the president stands for re-election, and all tyrants answer to the people eventually.
Humility is key. To keeping you working hard. To keeping you honest. To keeping perspective. Ego? That’s the enemy. the Daily Stoic
In early January, Kobe Bryant got a note from a reporter at ESPN. She was working on a story about a moment in Lakers’ history and she wanted to feature Kobe in the story. That’s one of the perks of the job right? To be courted by the media? To have people care about your opinion? To have a legacy and a brand to maintain?
It would not have taken Kobe long to answer that inquiry. Maybe fifteen minutes. Maybe a few emails. At worst, they would have sent a camera crew to his house for a brief sit down. There would have been benefits to it too—for Kobe’s shoe sales, his social media following, for his film and VC projects. Like with so many requests, it would have been so easy to say yes.
But that’s not what Kobe did. "Can't right now," Kobe messaged the reporter. "My girls are keeping me busy. Hit me up in a couple of weeks."
Some two thousand years ago, Seneca wrote eloquently on how we have “laid waste to your life when you weren’t aware of what you were losing, how much was wasted in pointless grief, foolish joy, greedy desire, and social amusements—how little of your own was left to you.” It’s not that we were given too little time to live, it’s that we wasted too much of it. Saying yes to things we’d be better off politely declining, jumping on every opportunity as if we had an unlimited amount of time. We protect our money, we protect our reputations, we protect our property, but our time? We act like we have more than we need.
We say that our families matter to us. We say that we want to be happy, that we are looking forward to things slowing down, that we love peace and quiet. Yet far too often our choices betray a sadder truth—that we are addicted to obligations, that we lack the stout heart required to deliver bad news and say the dreaded words, “No” and “Sorry, I can’t.”
Kobe didn’t get much more time after he sent that text, tragically just a few more weeks with those girls he loved so much. And you? How much time do you have? That’s right, you don’t know. Which is why you have to be firm, you have to be strong, which is why you can’t let people steal the one thing you can never get back: your precious time. ~ Daily Soic
It’s hard to argue that we are not beset by many problems as a society. Depending on where you sit, those problems might be different, and that’s its own problem in and of itself. But the good news is that the path to solving those problems is the same, regardless of what you sit.
We have to turn to the Stoics, or at least their method of problem solving. Like us, the Greeks and Romans faced crises and conflict, they faced tyrants and natural disasters, political gridlock and complex situations in which it seemed like no individual alone could make a difference. Here are some strategies which they provide us that can help guide us forward today, whether we are trying to address systemic racism or environmental issues, foreign threats, political polarization or a pandemic.
Start small. As Zeno said, well-being is realized by small steps but it is no small thing. Marcus Aurelius said we assemble progress action by action.
Turn to leaders with character. Character is fate, the Stoics believed. It’s not about voting for or supporting politicians that tell you what you want to hear or that you always agree with. What matters more is: Are they honest? Are they competent? Are they committed to respecting norms and institutions (what the Romans called the mos maiorum)?
Work for the common good. That phrase—the common good—appears in Marcus’s writing dozens and dozens of times. Because that was the job of the Stoic, to care about and serve the whole. When people are fighting only for their own interests, democracy doesn’t work. When people come together in coalitions for a common good, there is no better system.
Don’t be naive. Marcus reminds himself in Meditations not to go around expecting Plato’s Republic. The fight for public opinion, for votes, against evil is not easy and rarely pretty. Self-righteousness doesn’t help either. You have to learn how things get done and how to get them done.
Get informed. The Stoics understood history. They read widely. They didn’t just led their emotions lead their opinions. Wisdom is a critical virtue. “You can’t learn that which you think you already know,” Epictetus said. Issues are complicated and anyone that thinks they are is not informed.
Be willing to change your mind. Often what we thought was right, turns out to be wrong. Often what we disagreed with, we find, as the facts come is, is less disagreeable than we thought. A Stoic doesn’t flip-flop—they grow and improve.
Find allies and experts. Marcus Aurelius deferred to Galen during the Antonine Plague because he was the smartest medical mind in the ancient world. Conversely, Cato allied with Pompey, his former enemy, because it gave him a chance to stop Caesar.
Communication is key. There is no leadership, no change without effective communication. Diogenes, an early Stoic, swayed Rome to Athens’ side with a beautiful speech about justice. Marcus swayed his soldiers and the senate during an attempted coup by Avidius Cassius.
Nothing is more important than what is right. Remember Marcus: No excuses for not doing what you know to be right. It doesn’t matter if it’s hard, it doesn’t matter if it’ll cost you friends or a job, it doesn’t matter if people will yell at you. Just that you do the right thing.
There are many more strategies we can take from the Stoics, of course, but they all revolve around those core values: Courage. Justice. Moderation. Wisdom. No one is saying that moving forward will be easy. No one thinks solutions will be quick or painless. But they are possible.
If we do the work. If we insist on what’s right. If we stay at it with pertinacity and commitment. ~the Daily Stoic
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