About two years ago, I fell into a love affair with the western philosophy of stoicism. Stoicism is the philosophy of not caring about things that you have no control over. When I read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor who reigned from 161 AD to 180 AD, it felt like… I had this cheat sheet to master my emotions, my desires. It goes like this, Everything outside of your physical being is none of your business, and be intentional about your being. For example, what someone thinks of you, your possessions, luxuries you can afford, the station you were born into; are all relative, you do not control these circumstances so the sooner you realize it’s a waste of time you can be cured of myopia that so many people fall victim to. Your thoughts, your actions, how you tend your body, those are the things you control, the things that bring your peace or your demise.
A quote of his goes, “Death smiles at all of us and all men can do is smile back.”
Our world is very quickly appearing to unravel at the seams. But, when you live side by side with a dying planet as your dying human flesh. It becomes more apparent that life has no meaning. So what do you do? Do you give up early? Do you give in to circumstance?
Defiantly continue… Continue to eat things simply because they taste good, continue to pursue challenging obstacles for the joy of mastery, and above all else create things to be enjoyed by yourself and others. Defiantly seek out pleasure in the wake of your peril.
Person Z was born on January 1st, 1999 in the USA. Here’s a timeline of traumatizing events they can expect to see on television and in the media over the course of their childhood.
|Four months||Columbine High School Massacre|
|Age One||September 11 Attacks|
|Age Two||The United States declares war with Afghanistan|
|Age Six||Hurricane Katrina|
|Age Nine||Housing Crisis and Financial Collapse of 2008|
|Age Ten||Swine Flu Outbreak|
|Age Eleven||7.0 Earthquake in Haiti
Deepwater Horizon Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
|Age Thirteen||Murder Of Travon Martin|
|Age Fourteen||Edward Snowden wiki leaks
Boston Marathon Bombing
|Age Fifteen||Ebola Outbreak
Flint Michigan Water Crisis (Ongoing to the present)
|Age Seventeen||2016 Election, Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States|
To a member of an older generation, it can seem, bleak. Some of them remember the Moon Landing in 1969 on television. Older generations shared this human milestone. While present generation strives to “Occupy Mars” in an effort to escape our home planet. All that person Z knows is chaos, it’s easy to conflate chaos with existence. But things were simpler than this. Generation Z did not grow up only to be disillusioned that the world was far worse than what they were promised the way their predecessors, Millennials learned. Things were always chaos, Generation Z expected chaos, and has the attitude to tear down systems that are failing.
It’s frustrating and philosophy’s only question is so poignant because of the mess that humans have made of things, Is this life worth living?
More than ever humans have a responsibility to pursue personal development and satisfaction because that is all that humanity has left. Continue till it’s over until all of it is over and no point sooner. People who are aware of their death are happier because they offer themselves to great actions purposefully.
Eat great food. Listen to the music you love no matter what the critics say. Gaze at fine art and discover that most of it is just pomp, and overrated. Watch films in languages you don’t speak yet, and empathize with stories from different corners of the world. Read strange books, dense books, cliche books, Wattpad mini novels. Play video games, buy furniture. Health gurus take the fun out of everything; cheesecake is an experience in the mouth, savor it.
Learn a new skill. Cook a new dish. Work hard to be a world-class musician. Or be a serial hobbyist looking for your next project. Get your degree or a few microcreditionals on Coursera/Udemy. Face your fear of heights, your fear of abandonment, and all the other little things.
Make art. Get your body tattooed and pierced in all the places you like. Write even when no one reads it. Sing in the shower, in the car, beneath your mask in the grocery store. Distress your jeans, make a video collage for your fan account.
While “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”. Our lives and deaths are so small humans don’t quite measure as anything. Everything you are will someday be smothered away in the oblivion of energy melding into perhaps nothing after this one life. You can sit around wallowing in the misery of your imminent death and the following apocalypse. The moment you stop living with intention you are living like an animal. To the fantastic monkeys who are self aware, and can communicate that with the other monkeys with their brilliant toy of language. Enjoy all that you can while it can be enjoyed.
“We do not know where death awaits us. So let us wait for it everywhere.”- Montaigne
You are the sum of words, actions, and intentions. That is all.