Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: What’s my role in the play of life?
The Stoic sense to this question is that we do not control what role we are assigned in life, but should do that assigned role to the best of our ability. The issue I have with this is that it seems to support the idea that there is a hard and fast assignment by a higher power — whether that’s God, or gods, or just the universe–to an individual to a particular role in society, and that we shouldn’t fight that “assignment.” It’s very true that very many aspects of our life are out of our immediate control. I was born into a moderately well-off white family in Ohio at a particular time in history. These circumstances contributed to my ability to pursue advanced education, and it’s also why I own my house outright. So do these circumstances define my “role”? If we’re talking about that role being “how to act as a full member of human society”–that is, pursuit of the virtues that make society function–then I’m all in on that idea. That’s not dependent on accidents of birth, or twists of fate.
Evening: How have I found meaning in the roles I play in this world? By resolving to perform every one of them to the best of my ability, to the benefit of my teammates and society, by keeping my commitments, or by raising my hand when I have a problem with fulfilling what I’ve set out to do. It looks like in the near future, I may be called upon to return to a role I have played in the past, one I greatly enjoyed, but one which involves some hard work, but can also be incredibly rewarding.
Today, for one last time, I got behind the wheel of the beautiful red Porsche Cayman that we’ve owned for the past five years, and drove it through some of my favourite twisty roads in Ancaster, near Dundas Peak. The sun was shining, the sky was cloudless, and just enough of the dwindling fall colours were left to augment the play of light through the trees, breaking it into golden yellows and oranges and the occasional red. What I will cherish most is the western half of my route, through Sulphur Springs and Mineral Springs Roads, with the cadenza to Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto no. 1 on the stereo. And then, later, I went back out again with Dave on Ridge Rd, and on the way back I captured some video of what it felt like to ride in that car. Tomorrow, at 11, my own Red Barchetta will pass out of our hands. We were lucky enough to own it as a consequence of selling our last house and moving to something smaller, but, to be honest, in today’s world it is a luxury we can no longer really justify. And so we say goodbye. It’s been fun.