Escapology: Start Now & Prepare To Be Mocked

diogenesBy Lentus Ambulandus, who tries to be indifferent to the many insults directed at him, including those that may be figments of his imagination.

Stoic Week, Day 4.

A few years ago, when I’d already left my job but my wife was still working, someone asked me “And what do you do these days, just sit around and spend all your wife’s money?”

There’s approximately 0.0% probability that the person was joking. They may have thought that I was being smug about not working, and decided to take it upon themselves to knock me down a peg or two. The more likely scenario is that they were reacting defensively to the presence of a philosophy that ran counter to how they lived their life. More on this below.

Whatever the case, the comment bothered me immensely. After all, I did feel guilty at the time for not working, so this came across as a particularly low blow. I fumed for days, becoming a slave to my emotions.

In another example, my wife and I have drifted apart from some people who we thought were quite good friends. Perhaps they don’t feel we have anything in common anymore, because our lifestyles are so distinct. We’ll never know.

We’re probably not the only ones to face a bit of negative backlash for adopting Escapology as our philosophy of life. Perhaps your mother is like mine, forever asking, with the best of intentions, when you’ll get a decent job again. What should we do in such circumstances?

We should turn to the Stoic sages.

The good people over at Stoic Week have provided a handbook that includes, among other things, a list of maxims that the Stoic can lean on in times of duress. If I’d known about Stoicism when the aforementioned insult took place, I may have been able to pull one of these handy Epictetus quotes from my mental drop-down menu:

Some things are under my control and other things are not. [i.e. what people say]

It seemed right to them. [to say what they did]

You are nothing to me.

And once again, I direct your attention to the outstanding “A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy” by William Irvine. In a chapter dealing with the practicalities of becoming a Stoic (from which I shamelessly borrowed the title for the post), he offers some advice for those adopting a philosophy of life:

Anyone wishing to become a Stoic should do so unobtrusively. This is because those who hear of your “conversion” to Stoicism will likely mock you.

Why do people behave this way? Why do they mock someone for adopting a philosophy of life? In part because by adopting one, whether it be Stoicism or some rival philosophy, a person is demonstrating that he has different values than they do.

Furthermore, by adopting a philosophy of life, he is, in effect, challenging them to do something they are probably reluctant to do: reflect on their life and how they are living it.

Fellow Escapologists, we cannot control what others think of us or say to us. We can only control what we do, and how we react.

So let them mock us, if it seems right to them.

It is nothing to us.

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Lentus Ambulandus is New Escapologist's Chief Leisure Officer. He advocates doing the things worth doing (hiking, cycling, sipping coffee, reading books), and proudly accomplishes less in a month than most people do in a week. His creed is simple: Death Before Employment.

3 Responses to “Escapology: Start Now & Prepare To Be Mocked”

  1. Mr. 1500 says:

    “We can only control what we do, and how we react.

    So let them mock us, if it seems right to them.

    It is nothing to us.”

    Love it.

    I used to take offense when others didn’t think highly of my ideas or plans. Then a wise man said, “Seek the respect of only those who you respect.” Right there, I saw the error my thinking; I was taking into consideration the thoughts of everyone without a filter. This was a terrible idea as the opinions of most people shouldn’t matter.

    A second bad idea was spending time with people I had not business spending time with. I realized that I can’t (and shouldn’t) be friend with everyone.

    Since I’ve learned to tune and apply my filter, I’m much happier and content.

  2. Spoonman says:

    Another thing to keep in mind is that some people that feel threatened by your lifestyle sometimes lace their comments with venom, even if they are not conciously aware it. Even if they claim to sympathize with your cause, that may not stop them from dropping the occasional veiled insult.

  3. Lentus Ambulandus says:

    Thanks for the comments, gents, bang-on. In a chapter entitled “Insults: On Putting Up With Put-Downs”, Irvine writes the following.

    “One particularly powerful sting-elimination strategy is to consider the source of an insult. If I respect the source, if I value his opinions, then his critical remarks shouldn’t upset me.

    Suppose, however, that I don’t respect the source of the insult…under such circumstances, rather than feeling hurt by his insults, I should feel relieved: If HE disapproves of what I am doing, then what I am doing is doubtless the right thing to do…if I say anything at all in response to his insults, the most appropriate comment would be, ‘I’m relieved that you feel that way about me’.”

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