From Vol. 1, Issue 10, October 2019
Sure we can talk the talk. Can we walk the walk?
I seldom call myself a Stoic. Although I have been helped by Stoic principles all my life (I first stumbled on to Stoicism in my teens), no one close to me—not even my family or friends—knew that I had anything to do with Stoicism. I never talked about it. When I wrote my first book on Stoicism, Unshakable Freedom, they all wanted to know how I had known about Stoicism.
I was not secretive about it but I have always known how easy it is to talk the talk and how hard it is to walk the walk. I was (and am) embarrassed to call myself a Stoic. I see a huge gap between my understanding of Stoicism and my practice of ir. So I keep my failures—which are many—to myself. I fancy that everyone else practice what they preach, except me.
So it came as a big surprise when my dear friend Sharon Lebell sent me her article this month describing the difficulty she had in applying Stoicism when a personally painful situation called for it. (For those of you who are not familiar with Sharon, she wrote, way back in 1995, The Art of Living, a lucid rendering of Enchiridion. It has been continuously in print every since and has been translated into many languages. She has been, like me, a follower of Stoic principles long before modern Stoicism was born.)
Sharon’s article is illuminating. She puts her predicament in perspective and reminds us that we may not be perfect followers of our talk but, as long as we keep walking, everything will be ok. While the article reminded me how imperfect I am, it put things in perspective. Our walk may not match our talk. We will stumble and stumble again. But a Stoic persists. The art of the Stoic is to get up and continue to walk even when the talk is way ahead of the walk. For those of us who fancy ourselves to be Stoics there are no better words of wisdom than these from Sharon:
Philosophy on the page, however compellingly expressed, is useless unless it informs our real quotidian moments and changes us for the good in the trenches of real life.
Let’s never forget that. I found Sharon’s article inspiring and encouraging. Please read it and reflect on it.
The other articles in this issue follow the theme of how to apply Stoicism to our daily lives to achieve equanimity (Jonas Salzgeber) to pursue truth we need in making decisions (Meredith Kunz), to thrive (Elizabeth Azide), and to be patient (Flora Bernard). Kai Whiting relates American Football to the Stoic dichotomy and Liz Gloyn shows how to live without mortality every day.
This is the Stoicon/Stoic Week season. In honor of it, we have a pictorial of Modern Stoicism in this issue. I will be in Athens, Greece at the Stoicon Conference. I hope to run into you if you happen to be there too.
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Dr. Chuck Chakrapani Editor-in-Chief