Wisdom from the land of ice and snow

The few readers I have may have noticed that I have fallen off the blogging wagon again.  My goal to post every day turned into every week and now I’m back to having no goal.  There are two underlying reasons for this “failure.”
And this:
The first is a picture of a bust of Zeno, the nominal father of Stoicism, a philosophy that I have been reading a lot about and trying some of the principles on for size.  I’m finding they fit quite well and actually do lead to a more enjoyable life (what almost all philosophers agree on is the point of it all – they all just argue on the path to get there).  Stoicism has lead to less blogging is I just don’t get as worked up about things and there’s nothing that gets the blogging juices flowing like trying to work out something that you know deep down inside you just can’t do anything about.
One outgrowth of my explorations of stoicism is represented by the second image, that being the practice of journaling.    I’ve not been able to keep up the daily pace I planned, but I am do find it relaxing to be able to journal and not worry at all about how well composed my thoughts or ideas are.  As much as I claimed to write here without filters (and I do think I’ve said what I wanted to say), I also tried to always take an extreme amount of care that I expressed my ideas correctly.  That extra step has always been a form of self censorship that is now removed in the pages of my pocket Moleskine (which I do write in with a fountain pen….quite the hipster I know!).  However, its not the case that everything that ends up in my journal will never make it here.  This post is a perfect example.
One of the things I have been trying to work out in my head is the apparent cognitive dissonance between the stoic idea of focusing energy on things you can change and ignoring the rest and my fascination with history.  Of the 20 or so books I have read in the last 6 months, at least 10 have been history in one form or another.  I also consume many podcasts, but by far my favorite is Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History.  The question taking up a few pages in my journal are all attempts at reconciling my interest in history with focusing energy on the things I can change.
I had to go to the land of ice and snow to borrow an idea that has (for now) made these two ideas fit together.  Most everyone reading this probably has the same basic concept of time as I did: Past, Present and Future.  As you dig into models and theories about how time actually works, things become a bit fuzzier.  Some propose that time doesn’t even exist while others say that everything happens “all at once” (seems to me maybe they are saying the same thing? Remember I’m not a physicist nor a mathematician, just a fan of physics and math).  With that basis it should come as no surprise that even the widely accepted temporal concept of past, present and future has a challenger.
The Norse concept of time breaks things up into only two periods: “That which is” and “That which is becoming”.  “That which is” is a combination of the the past and some of the present while “That which is becoming” is the other part of the present (the active part) as well as a part of the very near future.  This view of time makes it perfectly clear why historical context jives with being present moment focused: because the present moment is not only what’s happening now, its all the things that happened before now to make now the way it is.  If you want to take effective action now, you have to have some idea of the cause of where you are starting. Without history we’re just guessing about what to do to shape “What is becoming”.  With history we’re at least making an educated guess.






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