You were in high school when you read The Great Gatsby for the first time. You were just a kid when you read The Count of Monte Cristo or had someone tell you the story of Odysseus. Maybe it’s been many years now since you first picked up the Stoics, whether it was Marcus Aurelius or Seneca.
The point is: You got it right? You read them. You’re done, right? Nope.
“There is a select group of writers,” Stefan Zweig once wrote, “who are accessible to anyone, at whatever age or stage of life—Homer, Shakespeare, Goethe, Balzac, Tolstoy—and then there are those whose significance is not properly revealed until a particular moment.” Specifically, Zweig was talking about Michel de Montaigne, a fellow traveler of the Stoics and one of the great essayists of all time. When Zweig had read Montaigne for the first time in his early twenties, it didn’t quite land. “His wisdom, so gentle and tempered,” Zweig wrote, “remained foreign for me. It had arrived prematurely.”
It wasn’t until Hitler sent Zweig into exile, it wasn’t until his books were burned in the streets and he was living as a refugee in Brazil that Zweig happened to bump back into Montaigne. But when he did, it was magical. The reconnection was instant. The wisdom that had been foreign and premature was suddenly relevant and perfectly molded for the moment. It was an awakening that would comfort Zweig for the remainder of his short time on the planet and inspire possibly his greatest piece of writing, a short book titled, fittingly, Montaigne.
This is why we cannot be content to simply pick up a book once and judge it by that experience. It’s why we have to read and re-read. It’s why we must linger on a number of master thinkers, as Seneca said. Because the world is constantly changing, we are changing, and therefore what we get out of those books can change. It’s not enough to read the Stoics once, you have to read them at every age, every era of your life. So too for Shakespeare and other great pieces of literature.
We never step in the same river twice, Marcus Aurelius said, and that’s why we must return again and again to the great works of history. The Daily Stoic
...We cannot be content to simply pick up a book once and judge it by that experience. It’s why we have to read and re-read. It’s why we must linger on a number of master thinkers, as Seneca said. Because the world is constantly changing, we are changing, and therefore what we get out of those books can change. It’s not enough to read the Stoics once, you have to read them at every age, every era of your life. So too for Shakespeare and other great pieces of literature.
We never step in the same river twice, Marcus Aurelius said, and that’s why we must return again and again to the great works of history.
Author Toni Morrison shares a lesson from her father:
"...one day, alone in the kitchen with my father, I let drop a few whines about the job. I gave him details, examples of what troubled me, yet although he listened intently, I saw no sympathy in his eyes. No “Oh, you poor little thing.”
Perhaps he understood that what I wanted was a solution to the job, not an escape from it. In any case, he put down his cup of coffee and said, “Listen. You don’t live there. You live here. With your people. Go to work. Get your money. And come on home.”
That was what he said. This was what I heard:
1. Whatever the work is, do it well—not for the boss but for yourself.
2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you.
3. Your real life is with us, your family.
4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.
I have worked for all sorts of people since then, geniuses and morons, quick-witted and dull, bighearted and narrow. I’ve had many kinds of jobs, but since that conversation with my father I have never considered the level of labor to be the measure of myself, and I have never placed the security of a job above the value of home."
Source: The Work You Do, The Person You Are
People will piss you off in this life. That’s a given. You’ll get cut off on the highway. You’ll be spoken to rudely. You’ll get blown off. Someone will drop the ball. Someone’s screaming baby will keep you up all night on a plane.
But before you get upset, you should stop yourself. Because maybe there’s something you don’t quite know about the situation. Think of Brandon Matthews, who was about to make contact on a putt that could have secured him a spot in the PGA Open Championship, when a spectator screamed. Matthews threw up his hands in disbelief. The interruption cost him the tournament.
It turns out that the middle-aged man who had yelled had Down syndrome. In fact, he was such a fan of Matthews that he couldn’t contain his excitement for him. "I was frustrated at first,” Matthews said after, “because I didn't understand the full circumstances behind it. But once I did, it was a pretty easy situation for me to handle.” He walked over to that fan and gave him his golf ball and a hug.
“Until you know their reasons,” Epictetus once said, “how do you know whether they have acted wrongly?” That moron who cut you off on the highway. What if he’s speeding to the hospital? That crying baby could be sick, or have two parents who are just as exhausted as you. The person who spoke rudely might be dying, they might have a broken heart.
The Stoics remind us to be empathetic. Almost no one does wrong on purpose, Socrates said. Maybe they just don’t know any better. Maybe, as Marcus said, they don’t know the difference between good and evil. Which is why we have to stop ourselves before we get angry. We have to think about their reasons, what’s going on with them.
It’s okay that you might struggle to control your snap judgments and emotional responses. The word Epictetus used was phantasiai, which appears more than two hundred times in his Discourses. But what matters is what you do after that wears off—what we do next. That’s what Brandon Matthews did—he reined himself in, he got his mind around the situation, and then he went and did something touching and kind.
And in that moment he was as great an athlete as there ever was—pulling off a far more impressive feat than sinking that putt. Which is why tournament officials of the Arnold Palmer Invitational offered Matthews a spot in the 120-player field—his first PGA Tour event. The Daily Stoic
Have you ever felt that sometimes you are your own worst enemy? We all have moments when, no matter how hard we try, things just don’t seem to work out right, when everything goes wrong, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. But, just as you may sometimes be your own worst enemy, you can also be your own best friend. The transition usually occurs when you realize that the only person on earth who can determine your failure or success is you yourself. You may discover your best friend when you develop the maturity and strength of character to accept yourself for the person you are and to take the actions necessary to become the person you wish to be. When you analyze yourself objectively, you can begin to build upon your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses. When you do, you will realize that the only person who stands in the way of your success is you.--Napoleon Hill
Now, unlike any other moment in recent memory, we are being forced to reevaluate things. We’re looking at our jobs, at our finances, at the places we live. We’re looking at so many of the systems that have been set up, whether they’re governmental or cultural or familial. We’re having to ask questions about why they are what they are, how they’ve held up under the immense pressure and stress of this global pandemic.
You can imagine Marcus Aurelius doing a bit of this himself. He too experienced a plague, and was forced to spend years far from Rome with the army. There, in his tent, he sat with his journal—the pages that would become Meditations—and he had a conversation with himself.
One of the best passages survives to us and is worth applying to our own lives right now under similar stress and uncertainty:
“Most of what we say and do is not essential,” he writes. “If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’”
There has never been a better time to go through your life and ask yourself about all the things you do and say and think, “Is this necessary?” “Is this essential?” “Why am I doing this?” “What would happen if I changed?”
How much or how little you work. Where you live. What your marriage or your relationships look like. The political policies you support. What you spend money on. What your goals are. The way your schedule is arranged. The things taking up room in your junk drawer... or the thoughts running through your head.
Most of what we do is not essential. Most of it is instinctual or it was foisted on us by someone else. Most of it isn’t actually working for us. We might be better and happier if we changed. We might have more tranquility if we did less, as Marcus said.
But first, we’ll have to ask ourselves some tough questions and there is no time like the present to do that. --theDaily Stoic
08:27 Aug 17 2020
Stop harassing users to join your shit coven carry on and I'll fuck you up you have been warned
287 times this coward said this well saddle up pilgram. we know you and we are after you because something is very wrong with you and we would like to help.
Until the millennium arrives and countries cease trying to enslave others, it will be necessary to accept one’s responsibilities and to be willing to make sacrifices for one’s country — as my comrades did. As the troops used to say, ‘If the country is good enough to live in, it’s good enough to fight for.’ With privilege goes responsibility. –Eugene B. Sledge, With the Old Breed
“The fighting will be extremely tough but short. It will be over in four days, maybe three.”
That had been the word from the general of the 1st Marine Division as his men prepared to take the tiny island of Peleliu from the Japanese.
But the fight had not gone as planned. The Japanese had changed their strategy. In previous Pacific battles, they had attacked the Americans in mass kamikaze charges, and been mowed down by the thousands. On Peleliu, they switched tactics, retreating into a vast network of caves and pillboxes carved under the island’s rocky coral landscape. When American planes, ships, and ground artillery pounded their positions, they simply bunkered down, waited for the barrage to finish, and then reemerged for a ferocious counterattack. The enemy had become lethally elusive and was prepared to fight savagely to the death. Thus each yard the Marines took required a high price in blood, and sanity.
American assault battle Peleliu
So it was that 15 days into the battle, there still appeared to be no end in sight. And one member of Company K, 3d Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment had reached his breaking point. Turning away from his fellow Marines, Private Eugene Bondurant Sledge sat down on his helmet, put his head in his hands and cried. The more he tried to stop his tears, the harder the sobs came. The horror and physical exhaustion of the previous two weeks had finally caught up to him.
E.B.’s nickname — “Sledgehammer” — belied his slight 135-lb build and demeanor. The son of a prominent physician back in Alabama, the shy, intelligent 20-year-old might have been mistaken for a poor young man who had been drafted into the military and found himself in over his head as a grunt. But Sledge had in fact chosen this path for himself. Though his family had urged him to stay in college as long as possible in order to angle for a safe, technical position in the Army, he had not only decided to join the Marines, but when he was put into officer training, he intentionally flunked out in order to enlist as a private. He wanted to see combat before the war was over. This desire was more than fulfilled, under circumstances he could not have conceived of then, and which today strain the limits of the modern imagination.
Since landing on the beaches of Peleliu on September 15, 1944, Sledge and his company had continually been under either actual attack, or the threat of it. Both conditions taxed the mental and physical capacities of the men to their limits.
During the day, the Japanese poured mortars, grenades, and machine gun fire into the Marines’ positions. As Sledge remembers, it was the heavy shelling which was “by far the most unbearable”:
There was nothing subtle or intimate about the approach and explosion of an artillery shell. When I heard the whistle of an approaching one in the distance, every muscle in my body contracted. I braced myself in a puny effort to keep from being swept away. I felt utterly helpless.
As the fiendish whistle grew louder, my teeth ground against each other, my heart pounded, my mouth dried, my eyes narrowed, sweat poured over me, my breath came in short irregular gasps, and I was afraid to swallow lest I choke. I always prayed, sometimes out loud.
Under certain conditions of range and terrain, I could hear the shell approaching from a considerable distance, thus prolonging the suspense into seemingly unending torture. At the instant the voice of the shell grew the loudest, it terminated in a flash and a deafening explosion similar to the crash of a loud clap of thunder. The ground shook and the concussion hurt my ears. Shell fragments tore the air apart as they rushed out, whirring and ripping. Rocks and dirt clattered onto the deck as smoke of the exploded shell dissipated.
To be under a barrage of prolonged shelling simply magnified all the terrible physical and emotional effects of one shell. To me, artillery was an invention of hell. The onrushing whistle and scream of the big steel package of destruction was the pinnacle of violent fury and the embodiment of pent-up evil. It was the essence of violence and of man’s inhumanity to man. I developed a passionate hatred for shells. To be killed by a bullet seemed so clean and surgical. But shells would not only tear and rip the body, they tortured one’s mind almost beyond the brink of sanity. After each shell I was wrung out, limp and exhausted.
Compounding this manmade assault was a climate and landscape that proved equally inhospitable. During the day, a blazing hot sun constantly “bore down like a giant heat lamp” as the men patrolled, took cover, and spent hours hauling giant crates of ammo and supplies from drop points to their positions. Temperatures soared to 115 degrees, and the unrelenting heat brought even the strongest Marines to their knees. The men were perpetually soaked with sweat, and Sledge’s pack “felt like a steaming-hot wet compress on my shoulders and upper back.” When the perspiration dried, it left behind swatches of fine white salt that stiffened his uniform. One part of the body, the feet, unfortunately never dried. Because Sledge never knew when he would have to scramble over the rugged terrain, he could rarely remove his boots, though they grew so full of sweat that if he lifted his foot in the air while lying on his back, water literally poured out of each shoe. With every step, his soggy feet squished inside their casings.
A hot muggy wind blew gray coral dust onto everything, which further coated one’s clothes and hair, and turned into a thick plaster when the island received brief bursts of rain. The men became covered in this sweaty, dusty patina, onto which was added gun grease and sticky, oily insect repellent. There was no chance to shave, shower, or brush one’s teeth. Stubble-covered faces and dirty scalps itched. Bodies stunk. Huge swarms of giant blowflies constantly harassed the men, descending first on corpses and then landing on their food. The abject filth, Sledge recalled, was far more miserable and demoralizing than most anyone can realize.
The night brought no relief. It was impossible to dig a proper foxhole into the hard coral surface of the island, and the men had to make do by creating shallow depressions that left them exposed to the Japanese barrages. Here they hunkered down in twos, with one man keeping watch, while the other laid upon jagged rock and attempted to catch a few fitful snatches of sleep. When it was Sledge’s turn to stay up, he kept a .45 automatic pistol in one hand and his trusty Ka-Bar knife in the other. For when the sun set and inky blackness settled over the island, a new danger and dread set in: the Japanese took advantage of the darkness to infiltrate the Americans’ positions. They were masters at silently sneaking through the landscape, and the Marine on watch had to strain his eyes and ears in an attempt to detect the raiders moving about. Was that rustling in the leaves a Japanese soldier, or one of the thousands of crabs that covered the island? Was the figure slinking along in the darkness the enemy or a fellow Marine? There was no room for error. If you lost focus, if you fell asleep, even for a minute, a Japanese soldier might throw a grenade into your hole, or jump in and slit your throat. It happened. At any moment, you might find yourself in a brutal, ferocious, hand-to-hand fight for your life.
Or you might slip up and accidentally shoot your brother. Tragically, that happened too.
You could never let your guard down, or let your attention wander. The stakes, and the unrelenting stress, were enormous.
Given these circumstances, it was hardly surprising or remarkable that Sledge found himself sobbing on his helmet 15 days into the ordeal. Breaking down psychologically would prove to be a common part of the experience of Peleliu, and some men never recovered and had to be pulled off the line. But, characteristic to the resilience Sledge would demonstrate throughout the war, he soon pulled himself together and returned to his position as a 60mm mortarman.
He didn’t know it, but he was in fact only at the halfway point of his time on the island. For two more weeks, Sledge would struggle through the same brutalizing, harrowing pattern of combat: “a constant movement of one weary, depleted Marine company being relieved by another slightly less weary, depleted company. We seemed to rotate from one particularly dangerous part of the line to one slightly less so and back again continuously.”
More and more of his fellow Marines fell beside him, wounded and killed in often gruesome ways. The sight of death, of seeing a man’s insides on his outsides, became as common as the flies that rapidly descended on the human carrion. Good friends were cut down beside him. The faces of the survivors increasingly hardened into a tight, weary mask, out of which stared vacant, bloodshot eyes. Sledge soon found himself thinking fatalistically, feeling it was only a matter of time before he was killed, and wishing for a “million dollar wound” (a wound that sent you home but didn’t kill or maim you). Becoming a casualty began to seem like the only way out of hell.
Marines Battle of Peleliu
As the month wore on, the deprivations, hardships, and horrors only mounted and magnified, and the island’s landscape became a silent witness to the insanity that had descended upon it. Peleliu was just 2 miles wide and 6 miles long, and the tiny hunk of coral quickly became blanketed with the detritus of war. Discarded gear and equipment littered the island’s ridges and ravines. So did endless piles of human excrement. Though tropic diseases left many men with diarrhea, Peleliu’s rocky surface prevented the practice of basic field sanitation. One’s waste was put in a used grenade canister or ammo carton and thrown by the way.
And everywhere there remained the dead. The Marines, devoted to each other even in death, always covered the faces and bodies of their brothers with ponchos as soon as they could and tried their hardest to move their fallen brothers as quickly as possible to the rear, where the graves registration staff would take care of them. The American forces desperately strived to tend to their dead as soon as they could, because if the enemy found them first, they would mutilate the corpses. One of the most shocking experiences Sledge had on Peleliu happened when he came upon several dead Marines the Japanese had already gotten to. One had been decapitated; one had had his hands severed and placed on his chest; and one had had his penis sliced off and stuffed into his mouth.
The killed Japanese, however, were left to rot where they fell, their faces frozen in the expressions made at the moment of death. Lacking soil with which to cover the bodies even partially, they were completely exposed to the elements. Because the Marines rotated in and out of the same positions, the corpses then became a kind of macabre landmark. As Sledge remembers: “It was gruesome to see the stages of decay proceed from just killed, to bloated, to maggot-infested rotting, to partially exposed bones — like some biological clock marking the inexorable passage of time.”
As one can imagine, the smell of rotting rations, corpses, and excrement combined to form an inconceivably putrid stench. “At every breath one inhaled hot, humid air heavy with countless repulsive odors,” Sledge recalled. “I felt as though my lungs would never be cleansed of all those foul vapors.”
Taken in its entirety, the environment of Peleliu constituted an unbelievable “scene of destruction and desolation that no fiction could invent.” Sledge describes the view from an area in which “ferocious fighting had gone on since the second day of battle”:
The wind blew hard. A drizzling rain fell out of a leaden sky that seemed to hang just above the ridge crest. Shattered trees and jagged rocks along the crest looked like stubble on a dirty chin. Most green trees and bushes had long since been shattered and pulverized by shell fire. Only the grotesque stumps and branches remained. A film of fine coral dust covered everything. It had been dust before the rain, but afterward it was a grimy coating of thin plaster.
The overwhelming grayness of everything in sight caused sky, ridge, rocks, stumps, men, and equipment to blend into a grimy oneness. Weird, jagged contours of Peleliu’s ridges and canyons gave the area an unearthly alien appearance. The shattered vegetation and the dirty-white splotches peppering the rocks where countless bullets and shell fragments had struck off the weathered gray surfaces contributed to the unreality of the harsh landscape.
Cans of C rations and K ration boxes, opened and un-opened, lay around our gun pit along with discarded grenade and mortar shell canisters. Scattered about the area were discarded U.S. helmets, packs, ponchos, dungaree jackets, web cartridge belts, leggings, boondockers, ammo boxes of every type, and crates. The discarded articles of clothing and the inevitable bottle of blood plasma bore mute testimony that a Marine had been hit there…
Particularly at night by the light of flares or on a cloudy day, it was like no other battlefield described on earth. It was an alien, unearthly, surrealistic nightmare like the surface of another planet.
Sledge finally got his ticket off this hellscape on October 15, when his regiment was relieved by Army troops. His unit retreated to a beach area at the rear, where he was finally allowed to clean up. The month-long combat had been a “savage, brutal, inhumane, exhausting, and dirty business” and Sledge certainly looked it. He was stooped and bent with fatigue; his hair was matted with coral dust and grease; the one-inch heel of his boots had completely worn away; his dungaree trousers and socks were so torn up and filthy, he had to burn them in a campfire. And “it took both edges of two razor blades and a complete tube of shaving soap to shave off the itching, greasy tangle of coral-encrusted beard.”
Eugene E.B. Sledge Old Breed Marine
At the end of the month, Sledge and what was left of Company K boarded a ship for a stint of rest and rehabilitation on the small island of Pavuvu. The unit had gone into battle with 235 men, and suffered a 64% casualty rate during the fight.
The struggle for Peleliu would continue on without Sledge and last until the end of November. It is considered by many to have been the Marines’ toughest, bitterest fight of the war. All told, 8,769 Americans would be killed, wounded, or go missing during the 10 weeks of savage combat.
Yet Sledge’s own war was far from over.
After several weeks of rest, his unit began training for the next operation: the taking of Okinawa. The last Japanese stronghold, and the last stepping stone to the potential invasion of Japan itself, the enemy was even more grimly determined to defend every inch of the island, inflict maximum losses on the Americans, and fight ferociously to the death.
Marines begin battle of Okinawa beaches
Operation Iceberg began in April 1945, and Sledge found himself thrust back into “the abyss” for 50 more nightmarish days of combat. The battle would prove to be just as bloody and horrific as that of Peleliu, just with its own misery-inducing, mind-melting variations. Torrential rain that lasted for weeks on end. Waterlogged foxholes. Knee-deep mud. Fields of Marines dead, for which constant Japanese mortar and artillery fire prevented burial. Rotting comrades floating in flooded craters. Shells that exploded previously buried Japanese soldiers, flinging chunks of their corpses through the air. Maggot-riddled muck into which a man who fell emerged covered with their fat, writhing bodies. “Men struggled and fought and bled in an environment so degrading I believed we had been flung into hell’s own cesspool.”
Worst of all, for Sledge, was the cycle of combat, and the need to continually steel himself when moving from a brief respite in a rear position, back again into “the meat grinder”:
I found it more difficult to go back each time we squared away our gear to move forward into the zone of terror. My buddies’ joking ceased as we trudged grim-faced back into that chasm where time had no meaning and one’s chances of emerging unhurt dwindled with each encounter. With each step toward the distant rattle and rumble of that hellish region where fear and horror tortured us like a cat tormenting a mouse, I experienced greater and greater dread. And it wasn’t just dread of death or pain, because most men felt somehow they wouldn’t be killed. But each time we went up, I felt the sickening dread of fear itself and the revulsion at the ghastly scenes of pain and suffering among comrades that a survivor must witness.
The increasing dread of going back into action obsessed me. It became the subject of the most tortuous and persistent of all the ghastly war nightmares that have haunted me for many, many years. The dream is always the same, going back up to the lines during the bloody, muddy month of May on Okinawa. It remains blurred and vague, but occasionally still comes, even after the nightmares about the shock and violence of Peleliu have faded and been lifted from me like a curse.
By the end of the Battle of Okinawa, nearly half of Sledge’s 1st Marine Division had been wounded or killed. All told, 7,613 Americans were killed or went missing and 31,807 were wounded in action.
A Debt of Gratitude
Eugene E.B. Sledge Marine Old Breed Okinawa
Sledge and his platoon on Okinawa.
On 8 August we heard that the first atomic bomb had been dropped on Japan. Reports abounded for a week about a possible surrender. Then on 15 August 1945 the war ended.
We received the news with quiet disbelief coupled with an indescribable sense of relief. We thought the Japanese would never surrender. Many refused to believe it. Sitting in stunned silence, we remembered our dead. So many dead. So many maimed. So many bright futures consigned to the ashes of the past. So many dreams lost in the madness that had engulfed us. Except for a few widely scattered shouts of joy, the survivors of the abyss sat hollow-eyed and silent, trying to comprehend a world without war.
Eugene B. Sledge beat the odds. He managed to make it through two of the Big One’s bloodiest battles without becoming a physical casualty. After serving on occupation duty in North China, he returned to the States, got married, started a family, earned a Ph.D in zoology, and became a university professor.
His reintegration into civilian life, however, was far from easy. He was haunted by his experiences, which returned to him in vivid nightmares. He didn’t miss the fighting, but he missed the intense camaraderie that develops only between men who face death together. And he often found it frustrating to witness the gulf between those who had experienced the bloody abyss of war firsthand, and “the folks back home [who] didn’t, and in retrospect couldn’t have been expected to, understand what we had experienced, what in our minds seemed to set us apart forever from anyone who hadn’t been in combat.”
In Okinawa, Sledge spent two straight weeks marching with sore, slimy feet trapped inside soaking wet socks. When he finally got a chance to dry out and remove them, pieces of dead skin peeled off with his socks. Yet he couldn’t have been more appreciative of the reprieve: “It was the kind of experience that would make a man sincerely grateful for the rest of his life for clean, dry socks. As simple a condition as dry socks seemed a luxury.”
Understandably then, once back home, he struggled to “comprehend people who griped because America wasn’t perfect, or their coffee wasn’t hot enough, or they had to stand in line and wait for a train or bus.”
After all he and his buddies had sacrificed, “We just wished that people back home could understand how lucky they were and stop complaining about trivial inconveniences.”
That’s part of why he ultimately decided to publish his classic wartime memoir: With the Old Breed:
In writing it I’m fulfilling an obligation I have long felt to my comrades in the 1st Marine Division, all of whom suffered so much for our country. None came out unscathed. Many gave their lives, many their health, and some their sanity. All who survived will long remember the horror they would rather forget. But they suffered and they did their duty so a sheltered homeland can enjoy the peace that was purchased at such a high cost. We owe those Marines a profound debt of gratitude.
On this 75th anniversary of VJ Day, if you can wiggle your toes inside a pair of dry socks, give thanks to the Marines of Peleliu and Okinawa, and all those who purchased our freedom at an impossibly high price.
With the Old Breed by E.B. Sledge — no reteller can possibly do justice to Sledge’s own account. A true must-read.
Why can we so easily overlook in ourselves the faults we are quick to spot in others? It is easy to be objective when it comes to criticizing our friends, family members, and business associates, but it is far more difficult to be honest about our own shortcomings. Only when we recognize that we are all human, with the same faults and failings, do we begin to develop that wonderful quality of tolerance that enables us to accept others as they are and ask nothing in return. Replacing faultfinding with “goodfinding” is never easy. But when you become one who always compliments instead of criticizes, you become the kind of friend we would all like to have. -- Napoleon Hill
In Rome, as today, things went wrong all the time.
Wars broke out. Earthquakes struck. Pandemics infected populations. In Rome, as in our time, people were constantly caught off guard by these things.
Seneca writes about a fire that broke out and destroyed the city of Lyons. Lyons’ citizens were not prepared for its destruction, even though it was preceded a year earlier by the Great Fire of Rome. If only they had listened to Seneca. He’d been saying it since the first time he was exiled: premeditatio malorum, “Nothing ought to be unexpected by us. Our minds should be sent forward in advance to meet all problems, and we should consider, not what is wont to happen, but what can happen.”
What of today, as COVID-19 makes quick work of businesses, government agencies, and supply chains? Was there anyone able to withstand the onslaught of economic and health issues? Yes, it turns out there was. In Texas, there was HEB, the grocery chain who has been actually expanding services and letting customers know they don’t need to stockpile—because plenty more supplies are coming. There is also AT&T which, despite record broadband usage, is ably handling the surges. How? Because they prepared for this. They war-gamed for precisely this scenario.
As a recent story in The Atlantic reported:
AT&T rehearses for disaster. Last May, the company ran an internal war game on how a pandemic would affect its ability to keep phone and internet service running. The company does these exercises routinely to try to get ready—to build teams of people and their reflexes, and also to understand what they will need on the ground.
Seneca said we should be routinely peering ahead, planning for the unexpected, running these war games. Like Lyons burning to ashes or global stay-at-home orders, it’s hard to fathom some of these things actually happening. But that’s precisely why we have to be ready for them. You have to put yourself in the position that Epictetus said we must be in—the only position that lets you greet adversity with the expression, “You are precisely what I trained for.”
Premeditatio malorum. --The Daily Stoic
It is virtually impossible to conceal the truth forever. It is the natural order of things that the truth will eventually come out. This single fact is the foundation of our judicial system and the basis on which all human relationships are formed. A business, professional, or personal relationship built upon a lie cannot long endure, but one that is founded on truth and equality of benefit for the participants is unlimited. Make it a practice to tell the truth in all that you do — even when it doesn’t matter — and you will form a habit of truthfulness. You will know instinctively that it is better to tell the truth and face the consequences than to launch a falsehood that will eventually make itself known to the world. -- Napoleon Hill
BREAK COVID HABITS WITH BADASS HABITS!
They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and 90 days to make it a lifestyle. Other, more clinical types, are more ambiguous with 18 to 266 days to create a habit. No matter how long it takes – we are all creating a ton of bad habits during our present pandemic routine. The good news is, you still have plenty of time to replace those bad habits with permanent lifestyle changes – because COVID is here to stay. So, here is your new pandemic daily routine:
Fuel the Body – The first sprint I do every morning is to my coffee maker. The one habit I’ve had for years now is adding heavy cream, Splenda, and MCT powder to every cup. Some would call this homemade bullet proof coffee-- which it is, but cheaper. Heavy cream provides fat to fuel your body. Splenda is artificial sweetener because I’m soft like that. MCT powder powers my brain (I need all the help I can get). BUBS Naturals makes great MCT powder made specifically to mix with your morning brew. Check them out here: https://amzn.to/3jSZi5W
Throw a Knife – Throwing sharp, pointy objects is trending. Whether it’s in America's backyards or bars and restaurants offering axe throwing – this medieval art is back! There is nothing more satisfying than chunking a one pound piece of steel at a target, even if it doesn’t stick. To get you started, check out the Pro Knife Thrower Jason Johnson throwing knives. They are works of art that have incredible capability with thrown properly. https://realjasonjohnson.com/
Get Lost – In other words, get outside and explore. Your couch doesn’t like you and is looking for a break. Before you start your adventure, make sure you have a GPS to mark your start point, track your route – which will allow you to throw out digital bread crumbs – so you can find your way back to your lonely couch. I have a few GPS devices I really like – but a good one for beginners is the Garmin Fenix 6. Loaded with every possible feature for outdoor excursions, health, fitness, and much more. Basically, everything you have on your phone packed into a stylish designed watch – and the battery last approximately 5 days: https://amzn.to/2Ew0sEe
Punch a Friend – Let out all the frustration and depression in a good old fashioned sparring match. Pick a family member (or COVID-friendly friend), and smack each other back into happiness. You can do this safely with protective suits and helmets designed specifically for this type of therapy. And yes, it is therapy. For the very best in training suits, check out the SPEAR High Gear. Its athletic design ensures snug fit for maximum range of motion and protection. HIGH GEAR is perfect for all aspects of defensive tactics, combatives, scenario-based training, and even conventional sparring for MMA, grappling, striking arts, etc.
Carve Dinner – I would say go hunt your food, but all the zoos are shut down.. so, pre-killed meat from the grocery store will have to do for now. But let’s say you were feeling a little froggy and wanted to eat what you kill – a knife that works in the field as well as the kitchen will ensure you’re not starving during global chaos. Personally, I have really enjoyed the knives from https://www.sh9.com/collections/all – they adapt to pretty much any environment – beautifully designed and ready for the hunt.
Somewhere in the middle of your new routine – you need to do some work, pay your bills, and binge on a TV show. Oh wait, that’s right; you’re unemployed, have zero money, and you’ve already watched everything. Let your 266 days of new habits begin. Good luck!
Be the exception.
More to follow,
Happy Sunday, everyone.
How's it going so far?
I've had a lot of people ask me what they're supposed to do when the world seems to be going crazy. Between pandemics, elections, protests, school closures, and the quickly accelerating dispersal of new forms of technology that alter the way people think, work, and communicate, there's a lot to take in. It can be overwhelming.
On a previous Sunday with Sisson, I recommended that people not lose sight of the basics. To keep getting their exercise, their daily movement, their healthy food, their quality time with loved ones and friends (as allowed). To stick with the basic fundamentals that you'd be doing any other time in history.
That's an important part of the proper response to uncertain times: keep doing what keeps you healthy and fit.
But another important thing to do is seize the day, the week, the era. There are opportunities out there. Things are in flux. You don't know what the world will look like in a year—that can be scary or it can be exciting. It's going to be regardless, so you might as well make the most of it.
Thought about homeschooling before but never felt pressed to actually go through with it? Now might be a great time to do a trial period.
Thought about learning a new skill? If you're working from home, take the time you would be commuting and put it toward skill acquisition.
Thought about a family camping trip, even going so far as to buy the tent which sits collecting dust in the garage? Go do it. Just load up the car, get the kids, get the dog, and go.
Played with the idea of starting a business but never pinned down anything concrete? Take a look at the shifting sands, the new normal, and try to figure out what people might be needing, wanting, or lacking in the "new world." Think about what suddenly mattered to you when your circumstances changed; maybe others were feeling the same (most of my business ideas arose from me fixing my own issues and serving my own needs).
You get the idea. Stride boldly into the unknown, head on a swivel, eyeing the path ahead and to the right and left, paying heed to the path behind you, athletic stance, ready to spring and pivot. Cautious but still moving. Because what, are you going to whimper dimly into the night?
Well, are you?
How are you going to take this unc--ertainty head-on? What are you doing to improve your life, and, by extension, the world?---Mark Sisson
Once You See How It’s All Composed, It’s Hard to Go Back to the Game
Life is a limited experience when you perform it on autopilot.
My studies into the human mind have taught me how our mind constructs the world into a computer game. Once you see how the game is played, it’s hard to go back. What’s more empowering is that you discover different levels of the same game.
Here are the entry level games:
Accumulation of money game
Spending money to acquire material possessions game
Pursuing one’s career for the feeling of achievement game
Building up one’s influence to feel superior or special game
Here are the advanced level games:
Chasing experiences over possessions game
Replacing the need for endless money in return for time (to live) game
Here are the expert level games:
Dropping selfishness for selflessness game
Choosing love over hate game
We’ve all heard of these different types of games. We often play each game without even realizing that’s what we’re doing. -- Tim Denning
|World Visitor Map|