In this dialogue, I am clarifying our common experience like loosing a cell phone. What these differences are like and how to practice the habit of doing no harm or the proper use of impressions: specifically about change, loss and things out of our control like death.
Me: Damn, I have just heard the worst news of my life. I have cancer, they give me a couple of years to live.
You: Wow, that’s too bad. I am very sorry, you don’t look too bad, perhaps they are wrong? Anyway, ignore me, you must be very upset.
Me: I am because I can’t stop the cancer. I have been told to control my exercise, nutrition and sleep. I feel like chucking the whole thing and go back to smoking, eating junk food and sleeping anyway I want…
You: Epictetus says we have very little control over our bodies, environment, even our own lives. As a philosopher, you must want to contemplate this principle and use it as a routine while you navigate through your bad news?
Me: You are right, I have to recognize my sage and Epictetus would not let me be reacting to the little things or the big challenges in my life. In fact, he would insist I stick to my ‘practice’ and ‘do no harm’.
You: So, to be a stoic is not about having a ‘stiff upper lip’?
No, far from it. It is about preparing for change and loss like my cancer or sooner rather than later demise. Recognize my ‘proper use of impressions’. And live the rest of life like my sage does, like a stoic!