This piece began life as a few sketch notes early on a Monday morning (7 September 2020), to help me reset and refocus to face week #25 of lock down courtesy of Covid-19, in Melbourne, Australia.
For most of this crazy year I’ve had a copy of Ryan Holiday’s & Stephen Hanselman’s The Daily Stoic close to hand. It’s one of many books I’ve read this past 6 months. A number have had philosophical leanings. My leadership development and coaching practice has a distinct philosophical approach to it.
Often The Daily Stoic will have something that resonates for me, and sets the day off on the right foot. Sometimes it’s just an interesting snippet that sparks a few thoughts and notes. Sometimes, rarely, it says nothing to me at all. Sometimes though, the daily message really lands, is apt, and seems to have been written just for me this very day.
Today — 7 September 2020 — is a day in the latter category.
Yesterday (the 6th) the State Government here in Victoria announced an extension of the current Stage 4 lock down in Melbourne. Many Melbournians were expecting news of release and relaxation, a clear road map out, alas that didn’t eventuate. In the alternative we in Melbourne are faced with a short-term (hopefully) tightening and continuance of Stage 4 restrictions.
Now, to clarify, this piece you are reading isn’t about Health, Virus data and curves, Epidemiology, or Politics. They all have their place of course, which isn’t here. I am also acutely aware that everyone is walking their own Covid mile, or perhaps their own Covid marathon. So what works for me works for me, and to be sure it may not work for you, and that’s okay.
Having read this morning’s piece of ‘inspo’ from The Daily Stoic, my mind went to this place…
”I wonder what story the collection of messages The Daily Stoic tells compiled from a few of the critical Covid-19 announcement dates here in Melbourne?”
This is where and when my few sketch notes for self commuted into this piece you are reading. My thanks to you for reading it too. I figured if the composite of messages resonates for just one or two other Melbournians today, and helps just a little, then the reading, framing and writing time was more than worth it.
So, here goes.
16 March 2020 — State of Emergency
A State of Emergency is announced in Victoria. The Daily Stoic headline this day is “That sacred part of you”. Marcus Aurelius’s mediation urges ‘hold sacred your capacity for understanding…’. The accompanying narrative encourages ‘take a little time today to remember you’re blessed with the capacity to use logic and reason to navigate situations and circumstances’.
8 July 2020 — Stage 3
Victoria is thrust into Stage 3 restrictions for a (then) projected 6 weeks. The Daily Stoic headline is “Stop monkeying around”. (Authors note — I don’t recall feeling as though I was monkeying around in early July nearly 4 months into the restricted state — but I digress.). Added to the ‘stop monkeying around’ headline is another Aurelius meditation, where he prefaces stop monkeying around with ‘enough of this miserable whining life’. Here Marcus is urging us ‘not to waste time complaining about what we haven’t got or how things have worked out, and be the owners of our own lives.
2 August 2020 — Stage 4
Hopeful of news in Melbourne of an end to Covid in sight, the restrictions actually dial up to Stage 4. The Daily Stoic headline is “We can work any way”. From Musonius Rufus’ Lectures this challenge, ‘indeed how could exile be an obstacle to a person’s own cultivation or to attaining virtue when no-one has ever been cut off from learning or practicing what is needed by exile. Holiday’s and Hanselman’s accompanying narrative draws out lessons from Theodore Roosevelt, and from Rufus who was exiled three times in his life. The key message, work within whatever room is left and, often difficult situations are opportunities for their own kinds of learning.
6 September 2020 — Stage 4 extended
The highly anticipated road map out of restrictions for Melbournians actually begins with an extension of Stage 4. The Daily Stoic headline “They can throw you in chains but…” (Authors note — to be clear Stage 4 restrictions don’t include actual chains — but I digress). Epictetus says that ‘you can bind up my leg but not even Zeus has the power to break my freedom of choice.’ The accompanying narrative, you can land in chains but no-one has the power to change who you are. Our power over our own mind can’t be broken.
So, there you have it. Four milestone Covid-19 dates in Melbourne 2020 matched to four entries from The Daily Stoic (first published in 2016) which of course draws extensively from the Stoic school of philosophy founded in the early 3rd century BC.
The composite of notes thus sketched for self from the four this morning, shared here just in case they may help another…
Use logic and reason to navigate circumstance, own your own life, learn from and in difficult situations and, our power over our own mind cannot be broken.
Courtesy of the Stoics I think I will be okay for lock down week #25. Hopefully you will be also.
To close, specifically for my Melbourne based readers and followers, here’s to Hope and Confidence over “Guesswork”.