Finding an Anchor
“So choose yourself a Cato–or, if Cato seems too severe for you, a Laelius, a man whose character is not quite so strict. Choose someone whose way of life as well as words, and whose very face as mirroring the character that lies behind it, have won your approval. Be always pointing him out to yourself either as your guardian or as your model. There is a need, in my view, for someone as a standard against which our characters can measure themselves. Without a ruler to do it against you won’t make crooked straight. ” – Seneca Letters from a Stoic
Who is your Cato? And are you letting him down?
This may seem a little silly, but I would say that you, Ryan, are my Cato.
Mostly because your ambition and sponge-like approach to learning have paid off for you at such a younge age; and that with similar aspirations (skipping years of waste, fulfilling the insatiable drive inside me), you’ve made me realize that I have to make use of every minute of my day, and that laziness is no longer an option at all. I went from working about ten minutes a week to working 10-14 hours a day, within the last five months. It’s been a rough adjustment but the learning curve is high, I don’t regret a minute of it, even when I thought I couldn’t handle the pressure.
As to whether or not I’m letting you down… I’d say not, although the only basis for that is that I’ve exceeded everyone else’s expectations. But I always assume that I am–because I know that your standards for yourself are so high that you are surely much more difficult to please.
My ideal of a man who gets his dreams accomplished and can handle the burden of doing them himself is a friend who crossed the Pacific Ocean, from Panama to New Zealand, solo on his sailboat Cacafuego (shitfire, in spanish). He is also one whom I admire for his sense of humor.
Don’t know if you’ve ever checked it out, but this was a cool idea I stumbled upon during the last book I read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daimonic
Sort of like your Fight Club moments.
Bruce Lee. Every damn day.
yes, Emile Zola.
I’d probably opt for you also. Basically, I’ve gone from reading practically nothing to reading for several hours a day. I’ve changed my outlook on life, begun to think clearly and analytically about things and develop solutions to my problems instead of ignoring them. And, most of all, I’ve learned that I don’t know shit and, accordingly, I’ve resolved to shut my mouth and open my eyes and ears.
What I think Seneca means is find someone who inspires you to be GOOD, not to work harder or read more or anything like that. As flattering as that is, work is just work. There are millions of people who read a lot or think a ton. That capability is built into you. But what about being decent, responsible, empathetic, stuff like that?
You could argue that the capability to be decent, responsibile, etc. are built into you as well.
“Way of life” includes work ethic, which is growing to be a rarer and rarer quality nowadays.
The problem with moral behavior is that it includes moral thought–simply saying, “this is bad because Cato would think so, and would know why” isn’t enough. And once you can understand the immorality behind something that may tempt you (or temptation itself), you don’t need to rely on the inspiration of others to act accordingly.
I use several people as measuring sticks, for I have not yet met a person who “meets my approval” in every category.
I do this because right now, my interests are varied enough that no one person covers them all at a high level. The specialization process of adulthood will probably shrink the pool of yardsticks in another ten years or so.