Today’s Daily Stoic Journaling Prompt: How can I share this philosophy that has helped me so much?
You’re reading it.
This prompt assumes over 3/4 of a year of working through a daily journal on Stoic principles, and I just started last week, not just in media res but on the back end of it. I had considered starting off at January 1, but the journal itself suggested starting on the applicable date. But I already know that writing about things as I work through them is incredibly helpful–something I had started even before the current crisis, and have recommitted to in the past week or so.
Evening: Right now, as I often have, the best way of leading is through example and through support and listening. My short exposure to Stoicism has confirmed that the place where one lives is the present. The future is yet to come, and not fully in my control. My past is done, and while it’s lovely to reminisce, excessive nostalgia is a trap. I refuse to fritter away one day without living it fully–although I also acknowledge that sometimes, living a day fully can mean the freedom to simply enjoy the world around me, maybe read, maybe listen to music, maybe research a thing just because I love to learn. It could be an online thing with friends, or it can mean hours of solitude, or something just with my husband. It can mean sleeping until I want to get up. These are all things I have not lost the power to do. Dealing with what we can’t do right now is what’s exhausting, so I put that away from me as much as I can. It won’t fully cure the ache, but it can provide other, better feelings to balance out the challenges of current existence.
It is the last of the notifications.
Sometime around January of this year, I added a planned performance of the entire Shostakovich quartet cycle at the Banff Centre by the Lafayette Quartet into my Google calendar. We had decided around that time to plan our first trip out West around this, which was to last about eight days. In between performances, I’d get to see the Rockies for the first time. We’d drive up to Edmonton, maybe visit a few friends in the area. There was an airplane museum to visit.
Of course, those plans have been off for some time, but I just got the notification through my Google calendar today. I never had tickets purchased for this one, but it is the last of my calendar entries for concerts I had planned to see. And with that, we head into darkness. Or, perhaps, twilight. I have a ticket for a possible performance in May; we will see where we are at that point.
I’m watching a few livestreams now to at least get some connection with that concertgoing world of my recent past, but even those are drying up as pretty much the whole world is experiencing a spike in cases. There was a ticket for one in Toronto next weekend; they can’t even get into to the hall now to do a fully-remote performance.
That’s not to say my world lacks music, as much as I miss the energy of live performance. Music, plugged directly into my brain, is more or less keeping me sane. I don’t need to scream into the void if what I’m hearing expresses the emotions I am feeling. (What I am listening to right now is here. It does a pretty good job of expressing quite a few things:)
But it is not all the Shostakovich 13th quartet. Sometimes it’s the Concerto for Piano and Trumpet, and the advancing autumn world is full of crisp air and falling leaves, and a kind of joy that has no dependency on the current situation. I’ve noticed that people are really decorating for Halloween this year on my street. I’m seeing all kinds of pumpkins, skeletons, inflatables, haybales, spiderwebs, and the like appearing on porches. Clearly the fact that trick-or-treating is still up in the air isn’t stopping people from celebrating in a way they still can, maybe combatting some of the exhaustion that is overtaking almost everyone I know. So I went downstairs earlier tonight and pulled out the metal hissy kitty to put up in our flowerbed, and that made me feel just a bit better.
And I sent a package of “Oh Caramel” cakes to a friend in Pennsylvania. He’ll be sending me chocolate marshmallow pinwheels in exchange. We chatted a bit about the election (both of us vote in swing states), with fingers crossed. At the same time I posted my leftover red and gold Sartor fabric to my hatmaking friend; soon, hopefully, I will have a shiny hat to wear to make myself feel better.
It’s Friday evening. I can spend the weekend sewing, or starting the next embroidery project. There will be roleplaying on Sunday evening–a later-in-life discovery for me of an activity many friends have enjoyed for years. The wispy tendrils of where I might have been have largely faded away, and in some ways I am free. The future still lies ahead, but the present is the current gift, and I refuse to leave it unopened.