People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself. -Marcus Aurelius
I have been incorporating Stoic philosophy into my life over the last year, maybe a bit longer. And while I’ve seen a lot of peace of mind in my life. There’s a lot of times where I also notice where I fail as a stoic as well. I’d personally define my stoicism as the practice of not being over run or mastered by emotion. Not being held hostage by desire and want, and achieving inner calm and seeking the highest good.
That highest good for me, is walking in obedience to God, continually seeking to be more like him and serving others. And yet, because I am human, I find myself being over ran by emotion, letting my anger win out and even seeking earthly things for joy and peace. simply put though, I fail as a stoic. More often than I’d like to admit, the interesting reality is though, is that much like in my faith. When I fall short of the manner of which Christ has called me to live.
It’s not as though he requires me to go back to square one, rather he Christ calls me to run to his throne with confidence, because he is willing to forgive so readily. Repentance in a sense, is not a one-and done experience. As though one will never sin again, but when would do, we have a Heavenly father stands ready to clean us up and send us right back on our way, so.. What does all of this have to do with the above quote and failure a Stoic?
Simple, when I lose control of myself, when I left myself to be overcome by compulsion, anger and various emotion. It is then, I look for retreat and peace in exterior things. How many times do we wish we could simply get away from life’s circumstances? And while that can be a blessing at times, it much more cost effective to master our selves and not allow things to steal our peace so readily.
As you have seen in my own Stoic journey, you will fail, you will have ups and downs. But the key is to persevere, to not be so moved by your failure and keep hammering away to created the perfect edge on life’s blade.