4b. The Good
"Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions."
Epictetus' Enchiridion makes these statements which I try and take to heart. In life, we must know that we can't control everything. There is this thing hanging over our head called "the unknown." These are things we can't control, peoples reactions and everyday problems and events. Yes, we can somewhat control the things that happen, but only our actions we can take control of. The man with these words of wisdom is one of many of the great Greeks. And when it comes to death, he gives one of my favorite pieces of advice.
"Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible... but the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles. An uninstructed person will lay the fault of his own bad condition upon others. Someone just starting instruction will lay the fault on himself. Some(one) who is perfectly instructed will place blame neither on others nor on himself."
It's too easy to place blame when things go bad. But, alas, Death is upon us all. We cannot blame others for when death will reach our doorstep. It could come otu of nowhere or we could live to 104. Epictetus goes on with some more words of wisdom.
"Don't demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well."
If we are content with the way things go in our life, we will have a much more positive outlook on life. This is extremely hard to do. But, if we try the least bit, it might be worth it as our daily life will be somewhat more happy. If we appreciate what happens to us, we can move along this thing called life, not with ease, but with more appreciation for things.
The embrace of life.
4c: Meaning is differential.
So if we are to look for the good in life, why is it so freaking hard? Well the title of these past two blogs come from a Hartley film called Theory of Achievment". One character proclaims "to know we can die is to be dead already." And for the most part, he is right. We are dead right now. Nothing about us is alive minus all the bodily functions. But with the only certainty being death, we are somewhat dead. However, this is a really dark way to look at things. So I turn to another text.
4d: "The Sickness Unto Death"
The title for this blog and Soren Kierkegaard's work on life and death. So here is the parts that are important for the sake of this blog.
"The human being is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation which relates to itself, or that in the relation which it is relating to itself. The self is not the relation, but the relation’s relating to itself. A human being is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, the temporal and the eternal, freedom and necessity. In short, a synthesis. Synthesis is a relation between two terms. Looked at in this way, a human being is not yet a self. "
Still not sure what the hell is wrong with this man. But his whole point is that knowing we can die is the sickness of our lives. The fact that we are afraid of death is a hindrince to life. The kiss of death, the embrace of life. In this, he basically says that dying is the cure for this sickness and (since he is a christian) belives that true happiness will come in the afterlife. Dark dark dark.
Here is the best nugget of info from a reading that has very little synonyms in it.
"The biggest danger, that of losing oneself, can pass off in the world as quietly as if it were nothing; every other loss, an arm, a lef, five dollars, a wife, etc. is bound to be noticed."
We will never know the loss we have when we pass on, but others will. It's hard when we know someone passes away. Really tough. It sucks when we lose something that is ours. But when we die, we will not know what happened. It's our greatest loss, yet we wont know it. Or will we? Who really knows. Its just a thought and another angle of this 4th topic.