The tasks at hand.
Last week’s meditations reflected how overwhelmed I felt by all that’s been thrown at us. The addition of the wildfires to an already tumultuous season was a lot. I had to just make it through each day, and last week’s meditations helped me just get through the week – a victory in itself.
But I wanted this week to be different, mentally. I started this week with the Stoic practice of a “pre-mortem,” a “premeditation of evils.” i.e. What are all the possible negative outcomes from this insane season – a season of pandemic, of continued police brutality against Black Americans, of economic instability, of political uncertainty, and now of raging natural disasters? The premeditatio malorum allowed me to mentally play out those scenarios to their extremes. Once those were laid out, it was time to “acknowledge the pain, but trod onward in your task,” as Ryan Holiday says in The Obstacle is the Way.
So the tasks at hand this week:
Leaning into faith.
Hoping for the best but planning for the worst.
Acknowledging the pain but moving forward with what needs to get done.
Recognizing the strength to be found in every crisis, the strength to be gained in every struggle.
Loving our country enough to let it break our hearts.
Answering the highest calling of our hearts by standing up for what we truly believe.
This week’s meditations are below.
“You’re my cave to hide in, my cliff to climb. Be my safe leader, be my true mountain guide […] I want to hide in you. I’ve put my life in your hands. You won’t drop me, you’ll never let me down.” (King David, a prayer from Psalm 31:3-5 MSG)
Premeditatio malorum (the premeditation of evils): “Nothing happens to the wise man against his expectation […] nor do all things turn out for him as he wished but as he reckoned—and above all he reckoned that something could block his plans.’” (A Stoic practice, writings by Senaca)
“The Stoic maxim: sustine et abstine. Bear and forbear. Acknowledge the pain but trod onward in your task.” (Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle is the Way)
“If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place.” (King Solomon of Israel, Proverbs 24:10 MSG)
“If this country hasn’t broken your heart, you probably don’t love Her enough.” (Cory Booker, US Senator from New Jersey)
“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe […] When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.” (Rep. John Lewis, from his New York Times essay published posthumously on the day of his funeral)
Hope something in these helps you or encourages you or empowers you as we finish out this week.