Perception

There are days when I am disappointed by everything around me and I’ve begun to notice that it’s usually people that I am most disappointed by. 

But in Feb 12’s reading, The Daily Stoic asks, “Why are you subjecting yourself to this? Is this really the environment you were made for? To be provoked by nasty emails and an endless parade of workplace problems?”

Written based on Epictetus’ Discourses which calls for us to “keep constant guard” over our perceptions, it is a reminder that I have more control over my environment than I think I do. 

Epictetus goes on to say that our perception is not a trivial thing to protect. By controlling our perception, we are protecting our “respect, trustworthiness and steadiness, peace of mind…”.

“For what would you sell these things?” he asks.  

Complete peace of mind can be hard to come by, but we can certainly foster it, reduce disruptions to it. 

There’s no point stressing out over things that I have no control over. When I am disappointed, is it because of what people have done, or is it because of my perception of what they’ve done? 

The world shapes itself according to how we perceive it.

Sterile

Somewhere in between graduating from university and today, I lost my voice. My writing voice, that is. 

The ironic thing is that I’ve been working as a writer, which meant that my writing became something functional. A piece of writing had to provide information, had to be part of a story, had to sell something. 

“Art has no function. It is not necessary,” said Gertrude Stein. 

By making my writing functional, it had stopped becoming art. The joy of art is in the work, not its result. And somehow, along the way, I lost sight of that. 

I lost the sense of play and exploration that comes with putting words and punctuation together in odd and exciting ways. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to write stories just because.

As my voice grew smaller, so did my Self. 

And I became accustomed to sterility in my surroundings. To the point of invalidating my own emotions. 

“You are not supposed to feel this much,” I tell myself. 

“Okay, you’ve felt sad, angry, overjoyed about this for long enough. Get on with life.”

I was trying to be stoic, but perhaps I’ve misunderstood what being stoic means. It’s not about denying emotions or suppressing them. 

Emotions are meant to be felt, to whatever extent they present themselves. 

It’s what you do with them that counts.