Thanks to all for all of the good thoughts yesterday. Yes, to be fair, it was a little bit of a reaction on my part. At the same time, it also provoked a much needed mental reconsideration of where I am in my life, and where I would like to be.
Fortunately, in my moment of consideration, I had a book within reach (I know, what a shock):
The Practicing Stoic by Ward Farnham a systemic introduction to Stoic philosophy - so far, outside of reading the Stoics themselves. Lay out their philosophy and underlying thinking, chapter by chapter it addresses major Stoic areas of consideration - Valuation, Desire, Wealth, Pleasure - and then lists out what the Stoics thought on each.
I am not finished completely with the book yet, but one place that it did send me was in the consideration of being a better person, as was discussed a bit yesterday.
What does "better" mean? A sliding scale of course, measured however you would like to. For myself, at least, I need to focus on if I am a better person.
How do I measure better in that case? Am I:
- Less desirous of things or more?
- Less content or more content?
- Less dismayed by events around me or more?
- Less concerned about the future or more?
- Less willing to focus on the hard work of living quietly or more?
- Less concerned about God or more (Stoics tended to say a God existed, just not the Judeo-Christian one. Epictetus was especially angry against Christians)?
Obviously in general, one wants to be both more and less: More content, more willing to focus on quiet living, more concerned about God and also less desirous of things, less dismayed by events, less concerned about the future. Add to this the usual set of mores as well: More kind, more generous, more gracious, more honorable, more thoughtful, more learned. more caring.
I understand that in one sense this all becomes a very internalized measurement of my own making with (in some cases) ill defined metrics. At the same time, this is the sort of thing that strikes me as precisely the most important thing right now.
To echo what was the inherent comment in some of the comments yesterday, we do not need people doing more, we need people being all of the "more" listed above.
I - we - likely cannot change the world this way. But at least we can be the bright lights in it.