Friday, January 11, 2013

Janathon 2013 Day 11 - Carrying on as if nothing happened

Run - 6.2km, Time - 33m, Weather - cold but bright

“Shall I show you the sinews of a philosopher? "What sinews are those?" — A will undisappointed; evils avoided; powers daily exercised, careful resolutions; unerring decisions.” (Epictetus, Discourses, Book II, ch. 8).
As if to show how far I am from being a philosopher Janathon is now a bust. Yesterday I did nothing and consequently wrote nothing. I could not, with all honesty, represent a bit of walking around as an exercise session and so didn’t try. This means of course I cannot complete Janathon and have to mark it down as a failure (after all the challenge is binary: either you complete all 31 days or you don’t. There is no scope for a fudge). There are excuses (I left the house very early and didn’t return till late, and when I did return I felt more in need of food than exercise) but they are only that - excuses. If I had really wanted to I could have done something (20 minutes with weights would have worked) but I didn't and preferred my comforts obviously.

Stoics are not terribly impressed by this sort of weakness of mind, as the whole point is to train it to act rationally and overcome those instinctive, emotional responses that cloud our judgement and cause us to abandon plans. You can see this from the Epictetus quote. But this is the ideal and  learning philosophy was never seen as a simple judgement, an exam which you either passed or failed. It was a process. The only failure would be to give up trying. In such a spirit I will accept that I failed to honour my resolution completely, but that was yesterday and today is different, I will carry on and it will  be possible to complete 30 days.

“A guide, on finding a man who has lost his way, brings him back to the right path—he does not mock and jeer at him and then take himself off. You also must show the unlearned man the truth, and you will see that he will follow. But so long as you do not show it him, you should not mock, but rather feel your own incapacity.” (The Golden Sayings of Epictetus, 63)

I must now try to stay on the right path.

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