On lessons and Stoic philosophy

Here’s a quote from Arno Rafael Minkkiren, a photographer who wrote an essay called The Helsinki Bus Station Theory:

“… be the caretaker of your vision. Make it famous. And above all, remember, that art is risk made visible.”

Arno Rafael Minkkiren

Not a single moment of the journeys we take will ever be wasted.

Some of what I’ve learned and un-learned along the way:

  • Other people will always give you advice based on who they are, their life experiences and what worked for them.
  • Research. No experience is off limits in the name of research.
  • If you feel shit, after listening to someone give you advice, then you’re in even deeper shit if you internalise it.
  • Take your own advice. It’s best… because you’re accountable for your own life and you’re the one steering the ship.
  • When a truth is universal… it will resonate, regardless of what age and era we live in. Here’s a quote from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, emperor of Rome in 161 AD,

“What humans experience is part of the human experience … Nothing that can happen is unusual or unnatural, and there’s no sense in complaining. Nature does not make us endure the unendurable.”

Marcus Aurelius
  • Because you’ve already endured it. You’re enduring it.
  • Re-read Victor Frankyl’s auto-biography of Auschwitz and watch Frida Kahlo for inspiration on the human spirit’s capacity to endure.

To feel affection for people even when they make mistakes is uniquely human. You can do it, if you simply recognise: that they’re human too, that they act out of ignorance, against their will, and that you’ll both be dead before long. And, above all, that they haven’t really hurt you. They haven’t diminished your ability to choose.

Marcus Aurelius
  • There’s always another way to see things. Perspective, paradox and paradigms are some ways to approach thinking.
  • Negative thoughts are the most unproductive thoughts to exist. Choose another thought.
  • Emotional alchemy is the process of transmuting your shadowy feelings into inspiration, strength, power. The key is always acceptance and presence.
  • Everything has a cycle, a rise and a fall.

Marcus Aurelius’ asceticism sometimes comes through too strong for me, then again, I am not a Stoic, but this is one of my favourite lines from Meditations,

That way you’ll see human life for what it is. Smoke. Nothing. Especially when you recall that once things alter they cease to exist through all the endless years to come.

Marcus Aurelius

I love the poetic way those words are put together… and that it’s also a reminder of death and that death is not so taboo. Rome as he knows it, is gone… but his wisdom can be quite beautiful to read.

… Earth’s offspring back to Earth but all that’s born of Heaven, to heaven returns again.

Marcus Aurelius