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Posts Tagged ‘Mom’

The Underappreciation of Stoicism

Ahh, the poor stoics of the world. 

They don’t get much attention in comparison to many others.  The whiners of the world complain loudly and bitterly and many people feel bad for them often and annoyed by them on occasion.  The truly depressed cause people to worry about them, sometimes more so when they are quiet and go into retreat mode.  The angerballs have no problem venting and diverting attention to themselves.  Even the chronically happy are duly noted and either praised or scorned.  Loudly.

But the stoics?  The ones who rarely get overly happy and excited during the good times?  The ones whose complaints during bad times are barely a blip on the radar?  Who talks about them?

I think about this as I stay with my mom and remind myself of some of her ways.  Now, it is true that she has never been a patient woman.  When I was a child, I dreaded the annual (yeah – we only did this once a year) trip for new shoes with my mother because unless I miraculously both fit into and loved the first pair of shoes I tried on, I was subject to some vocal complaints and downright huffiness.  And yes, she does have a couple of chronic ailments – her bad feet probably being the most painful for her.  But, put aside her impatience and anything directly related to that and what do I see?  A very stoic woman. 

When I think about her ability to put up with discomfort, I am impressed.  She just doesn’t like to be down for the count.  She will get pneumonia and then try to get back to work as soon as possible until ordered home by the HR watchdogs.  Walk into the living room after her nephew accidently breaks one of the few delicate things she has on display?  She tells him it is ok and proceeds to clean it up.  Live alone after Dad dies?  She tells me she is not lonely and is doing ok (mostly, I think, because Big Sis and her family are so close).  She may mention her foot pain right after she gets home from work after standing on her feet all day, but she doesn’t spend all her time moaning about it. 

OK, so she told me she screamed and cursed pretty loudly when she dislocated her shoulder and had to be driven to the emergency room by my Big Bro.  Cause, hey — dis.located.shoulder! Anything milder than that and barely a peep from her. 

I thought about myself the other day and how I spend about five minutes in the company of my old co-worker and already I’m whining about my lower back pain.  How I can be vocal about the less-than-stellar things going on in my life.  And I think how long and loudly I lament any sickness that causes pain and discomfort.  Goodness know Sweetie probably wants to spike my soup with NyQuil to get me to shut up.  And I wish I could be more like my mom in that regard.  Less with the whining.  More with the moving on.  Less with the worrying and more with the action.   

How many people praise the stoics?  How many check up on them on a regular basis?  How many really appreciate their nature given the amount of energy we expend on the more dramatic people in our lives?   They are the unsung heroes of the friend and family trees.  They shouldn’t have to jump up and down for attention.  And it shouldn’t be so hard for the rest of us to emulate them a little more.  I’m not talking about repressing feelings or tuning out.  I think that I am not talking so much about stoicism as “indifference” but more as the Stoics themselves practised their philosophy.  From Wikipedia (hush, this isn’t a scientific paper, I can cite wikipedia):

Stoicism was a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium  in the early 3rd century BC. The Stoics considered destructive emotions to be the result of errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of “moral and intellectual perfection,” would not undergo such emotions.  Stoics were concerned with the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is in accord with nature. Because of this, the Stoics presented their philosophy as a way of life, and they thought that the best indication of an individual’s philosophy was not what a person said but how he behaved.

That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?  Am I missing something?  Maybe a philosopher or historian can enlighten me.  All I know is, I admire my mom greatly.  I just need to remember to tell her more often.

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