"Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control. We cannot have a light heart if our minds are a woeful cauldron of fear and ambition.
Do you wish to be invincible? Then don't go into combat with what you have no real control over. Your happiness depends on three things, all of which are within your power: your will, your ideas concerning the events in which you are involved, and the use you make of your ideas."
Epictetus, The Art of Living
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The goal is mastery of one's self. You are fucked when the goal becomes anything else. Let me say that again: you are fucked when the goal becomes anything else.
I have paid a heavy price to write those nine words. Every fucked one of us pays a heavy price to learn this.
Epictetus tells us happiness depends solely on things within our control: our will, ideas and actions. Nothing external. But the fucked life is always looking outside for its happiness. It is a true marker of the fucked. Why? Why do we focus on externals instead of things we can actually influence, control and create? Because it is easier to suffer the whims of fortune, to wish for a new life, a better life, than to actually build it one piece at a time. We want the lottery to care for us in old age; we want our broken heart to mend with the return of the one who broke our heart; we want it all to work out in the end, but are simply too afraid to choose our own way through the world - what if we choose wrong?
The goal is mastery of one's self, of one's will, of one's ideas, of one's choices, actions and beliefs. This mastery is utterly unique to every last fucked one of us. Your expression of it will be different from mine, in fact, IT MUST BE. Do you understand?
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I know a woman, lovely in her bones, who is the first person I have met who gets it, gets it at a cellular level. I think she's nuts sometimes and I do not agree with her on many things, but of all the thousands of people who have entered my life, she, above all uses her will and her ideas about the events in her life and makes use of them to create her life. She once asked me, "You know how to do it, right? You set a goal and execute. Everyday. You know that, right?"
No. I didn't know. Not deep down in the marrow of it all. No. Not well enough to move from knowing it to living it. That, too, is a marker of the fucked life: knowing but not doing.
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All this philosophy makes this sound like bullshit, but that is just the fucked part of your brain trying to keep you safe and fucked. Ignore it. You and I have work to do to unfuck our lives. Epictetus and the Buddha, Viktor Frankl and James Agee, Jesus Christ and Joseph Campbell and on and on are all doing the best they can to point us toward our authentic happiness - they point within so we can act in this world and not reduce the gift of our lives to being the mere "plaything of circumstance."
The goal is mastery of one's self so that self can be expressed.
Don't be a fuckhead your entire life. You know how to do it, right? You set a goal and execute. Everyday.