Well, duh (see title). I wish I had it all wired. As I read through Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations or Epictetus’ Enchiridion, there’s a tendency for me to think that these guys had it down; like they really had their shit together. Then, I wonder, had they really reached a destination? Were they Stoically enlightened? Did each claim to be Buddha? Were they actually sages? I prefer to think of them as thinkers, writing to help themselves wrestle life…kind of like me.
I write not because I’ve reached Nirvana. Rather, I write because I’ve tasted it, then returned to the struggle. These momentary journeys into the infinite, and most of them are momentary, are enough to power me for the match. What I wrestle with varies—it can be finances, sickness, communication with my love, child issues, declining health and death, career planning, fulfillment, or “why am I wasting my time when I could be enlightened?”–but I’m always returning to the match.
I recently picked up a random book about Michel De Montaigne. Apparently, his Essays were nothing more than discussions with himself. He spoke of his own doubts and fears, while theorizing what he grasped as truth. His Essays are most famous for the phrase, “What do I know?”
This phrase nails it. “What do I know?” Sometimes when I think I am on to something, I am so eager to share it that my fingers cannot type fast enough…I am so eager to share it with anyone who will listen (read it, in this case). I just want to help you and me sort it all out, and I think I’ve come upon an answer, perhaps THE answer. Then, I return and I have that “what do I know?” feeling. In the end, I am comfortable with that.
When I’m comfortable being surrounded by the unknown, I am free. It’s actually comforting to know that you will never be in control. Never, ever, ever, EVER, EVER! I do not have all the answers, and I really don’t have THE answer. Never, ever, ever, EVER, EVER! With that, I just let go, and I fall, and fall, and fall, and I never hit the bottom. Maybe someday, but for now I just look around and enjoy…and that is very Stoic.
(feature photo by kirchli @freeimages.com)