What can we truly control? Others? The environment? The thoughts, desires, needs of those around us?
As I sit envisaging what to write about I continually come back to a single basic concept. The paradox of modern stoicism is personally both naturally inviting; yet also agonizingly difficult to embrace in today’s world. This is David and Goliath, Rocky and Drago – The base simplicity of accepting that I cannot change everything –vs- The complexity of digital life, teamed with the speed of recent change when viewed across a 100-year timeline. What is the best avenue for success? Do we embrace the all-in-never-say-die-more-is-better approach and increase our digital footprint exponentially across all aspects of our life? Do we forego the complexity of a fast-paced life and approach life in a people first communal way? Can we do blend both into a functional reality?
I would submit that we can in fact have both – Let me explain. Continuing the theme from above – Our ability to talk and digitally interact across thousands of miles continues to grow and develop and an astonishing rate. But are we truthfully communicating? Are we connecting to those around us? Or are we simply taking the data-driven-easy-way-out to remain in our comfort zone and not run the potential risk involved with face to face communication?
In my humble opinion; the key to this is as Quintus Sextius posed a thousand years ago –
“To live, indeed, is not in our power; but to live rightly is.”
Or to put in layman’s terms we can only control what is within our immediate grasp. What I call our 5-Foot bubble. I can control how much effort I put into being a dad, husband, soldier, green beret, amputee, American, or simply as a person. If I strip the stress of others expectations, views, and outside stressors and simply focus on putting 100% effort into every aspect of my life I can affect individual people, communicate personally across the ever-expanding digital footprint, I can embrace both the modern proverbial of Drago and Rocky. The key to facing our fear and forging greater strength is simply to face what we fear – to strip away everything and focus on the essential parts.
Each of us have our own unique comfort zone – challenging ourselves to thrive outside of it depends on grasping and embracing who we are and where our comfort zone truly is. Personally, it is very easy for me to physically run, walk, jump, climb mountains, sky dive, embrace the potential horrors of combat…It is much tougher to embrace being a strong and humble father, to take my 1.5 and 4-year-old to Disneyworld.
Looking again to written work – I am reminded of “Gates of Fire” (Pressfield) “‘When a warrior fights not for himself, but for his brothers, when his most passionately sought goal is neither glory nor his own life’s preservation, but to spend his substance for them, his comrades, not to abandon them, not to prove unworthy of them, then his heart has truly achieved contempt for death, and with that he transcends himself and his actions touch the sublime. This is why the true warrior cannot speak of a battle save to his brothers who have been there with him. This truth too holy, too sacred, for words. I would not presume to give it speech, save here now, with you’” (332).
“The opposite of fear,” Dienekes said, “is love. (332)”
This mindset guides those in my profession – my brotherhood – yet, at times I fail to apply it to me home and family. So, I chose to move outside my personal comfort zone and embrace 12 miles a day of sickeningly sweet mouse house driven shenanigans and had a wonderful time – it simply took accepting that I cannot force my children to be happy, to act correctly, all I can affect is what I bring to the table 1440 minutes a day – in all facets of life. To focus on my five foot bubble and face what I fear.
By J.M Collins