February 18th : Prepare for the Storm
“This is the true athlete – the person in rigorous training against false impressions. Remain firm, you who suffer, don’t be kidnapped by your impressions! The struggle is great, the task divine – to gain mastery, freedom, happiness, and tranquility.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 2.18.27-28
As we train our bodies for the unknowable and inevitable challenges ahead, so should we train our minds. It isn’t sufficient to simply know about these skills, but we should actively practice and exercise these abilities.
Combine hard interval sessions with breathing skills to help maintain composure over fatigue.
Race with unpredictable pacing strategies (both yours and your opponents), to see how you deal with surprises.
Remind yourself of your driving purpose as you enter the race.
The struggle is great, the task divine…
February 19th : The Banquet of Life
“Remember to conduct yourself in life as if at a banquet. As something being passed around comes to you, reach out your hand and take a moderate helping. Does it pass you by? Don’t stop it. It hasn’t yet come? Don’t burn in desire for it, but wait until it arrives in front of you. Act this way with children, a spouse, toward position, with wealth – one day it will make you worthy of a banquet with the gods.” – Epictetus, Enchiridion, 15
I’ll admit, this one leaves me feeling…I don’t know.
Really, the only part that leaves me feeling odd is the idea of taking a “moderate helping”. I understand the idea that to fully protect yourself from pain, we shouldn’t get overly attached to anything. I’ve spoken before about the etymological roots of the word “passion”. At the same time, I can’t help but feel that when given an opportunity, you shouldn’t waste it. If you are going to do something, do it with full intent.
I simply balance this out with a recognition that 1) everything will end, and 2) when it does, I am the one who chooses how to react to the loss. I can turn it into a lesson that I can apply to my next endeavor.
Romantic during, stoic after? Parallels how the best act in sporting events : fully convinced they can win when in the midst of battle, but rational about the circumstances afterwards…
Easy to say, not so sure it’s easy to do.
Or maybe I just love eating too much…