In any case, all I could “see” in my mind and “hear” in my head was Jerry Stiller’s character from NBC’s Seinfeld, Frank Costanza, crying out in frustration “Serenity NOW!”, and imagining all the frustration that came with that practice.
Frustration or not, serenity is what Stoics, and dare I say ALL people, are seeking. Frustration is part of the practice, as much as the elusive serenity.
In other words, we don’t have the opportunity to practice Virtue unless we are faced with “vice”. It’s hard to be Courageous if we aren’t faced with fear, right? It’s hard to have Vision when we’re trapped within our own selfish myopia, yes?
Just as much as fear is a part of “Courage practice”, frustration is a part of seeking serenity.
Arrian, a student of Epictetus responsible for writing down as much of his teacher’s work as he could, called the teaching of embodied constancy, sturdiness, and calmness, eustatheia (lit. stability).
So… how do we get us some eustatheia?
It’s not something some are born with, while some aren’t. Like most things, it can be achieved through diligent practice and discipline, not through cloister and renouncing the world.
Imagine someone whose hair hasn’t been cared for in a while and their hair is, like my grandmother used to say, a “rat’s nest”, tangled and askew. That hair is like the stresses of our lives. Now, the comb that works through those tangles and makes the hair orderly, is the discernment of a trained mind and spirit.
In other words, our reason takes the devious, disconcerting, and devastating nature of that which is beyond our control, and makes them orderly.
However (REAL BIG however), if what we think is our discerning mind is actually an ego-infected-mind, those metaphorical tangles and knots will only become worse, and the frustrations we originally hoped to address only multiply.
So, like the title of this post instructs, “If we want to be steady” we must discipline our minds.
(See y’all tomorrow)