The last few blogs have been centered around what I think about recent things. I’ve drifted from writing about how I feel about the things that have transpired in my life recently. I’ll attempt to do that here.
What I, and all of humanity, are going through now is something that is so extraordinary and unprecedented that all of us are living in lockdown just to survive. I must confess that recent developments in my circumstances, such as having to leave my dorm on minute’s notice, taking a gamble by staying back in a foreign country and then not being able to return home on a whim, and a certain breakdown of a cherished friendship have made me gloomy and uncertain about my short-term circumstances.
Of course, I do exaggerate. I am still in good health, comfortable, in the presence of family who have gone above and beyond to take care of me. In fact, I am more blessed than I oft realize. Still then, what is that saying about the devil being in the details? There is no doubt in my mind that I will recover, that I will go through these things and come out a better man, but what does hurt and cause existential pain is the current situation: when will I recover? when will I get back home? when will I get over losing a friend?
I have been alerted to the fact that my writing serves as a facade: I seem more mature, composed and in tune with my state of mind than I really am.
What you don’t see is that every thing I write, while it does of course stem from my own intellect, emotion and belief, is thoroughly curated before I put it out. Nothing I write is disingenuous or fake, that would be a deception so grave that I may as well smash my laptop and tear down this website. Still, it goes through a process where my raw train of thought is edited, the words and sentences made to sound more coherent, composed and intelligent than they would if I was to talk about them at random.
It is no lie that all of us go through hardship. I don’t know what it is for you, but I do understand that fundamental fact. We have troubles, financially, physically and emotionally. Even familial or personal.
Stoicism is the school of thought that has resonated with me for all of my life. As far as I have been able to restraint myself, I have never believed that complaining about a problem will ever get me through it. Stoicism has one fundamental motto: take it on the chin, and move on.
If you have had the good fortune of coming across the masterpiece succinctly titled ‘If’, by Rudyard Kipling, then you will know that stoicism is at the heart of it. Here are some of Kipling’s finest lines:
If you can keep your [cool] when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.
There are moments in my life where everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong. (Murphy’s law, right?)
I have suffered failure with grades, friendships, other relationships and in my personal pursuits of things I’ve wanted to do. Often times these have come together, and life has felt burdening. Yet, in the lowest points of the graph of your life’s trajectory, heed Kipling’s wisdom. Trust yourself, be sincere, and don’t boast, or feel ‘too’ clever.
If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss
Kipling’s poem is an important lesson in being determined and unshakeable. I suppose it is easier to say than it is to act stoic, but whenever I’m staring in the face of uncertainty, this is what I like to go back and read from time time.
Another great reminder is that we’ve been in this position before: we have had moments that we’ve found ourselves caught up in a situation which we weren’t sure we would be able to get through. Guess what? We did. You’ve weathered 100% of your bad days!
In the recent years I’ve learned to take things as they are. There’s a sense of liberation in abandoning worries about things that are out of our control, like what my old friends or past companions think of me. I’ve always done the best I could with what I knew, some times the dice roll in your favour, and sometimes they don’t. You roll with the punches and do what you can with what you have.
Here’s another quote from Les Brown that I’m a big fan of:
That’s all for this one. Time in quarantine is allowing me to write more, and I’d like to keep putting out meaningful writing, at the same time deal with my own emotions, even if the post is short like this.
Stay safe out there.
Until next time,