The Daily Stoic for April 19th. “Our sphere of impulses”.
“Epictetus says we must discover the missing art of assent and pay special attention to the sphere of our impulses—that they are subject to reservation, to the common good, and that they are in proportion to actual worth.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 11.37
Sometimes it’s just so hard to believe in the common good. Today is one of those days.
I have mentioned before my now-defunct project “Bosques de mi Mente“. It started more than ten years ago… I was younger, and a lot more innocent back then.
Initially, my music was under creative common licenses, allowing everybody to listen, download and share the music for free, as long as they at least gave me attribution and didn’t use my music for commercial purposes. It was a time when I believed in the common good. I believed that, if we all make our small contribution, the world would be a better place.
During the years, however, my music was subject to all kinds of abuse. It was used for commercial purposes without my consent by famous Spanish TV series, on gun ownership promotion videos, and other disgusting places. I even embarked on a lawsuit against the Spanish TV series… without any result. I was small, they were big. End of story. I ended up putting my music under copyright and, eventually, giving up and closing the project.
I had never intended to make a living out of my music. Because I know how hard it is. But there’s a difference between people listening to my music for free, and people making money out of it without even asking for permission.
After closing Bosques de mi Mente, I received some request to use my music for small projects, dance performances, or indie movies. Every time I granted permission on my music, I got rewarded with a misuse of my music of someone making money out of it without letting me know.
Thus, I decided to ignore all further requests to use my music and let go the past…
The Last Time I Believed In Human Kindness
… Until I received an email. It was from the director of a small modern dance troupe. He asked me to use my music, offering me a contract with a part of the earnings, for a dance performance he was preparing. Something in the beauty of the work, or maybe the fact that he had kindly asked instead of stealing my music like most others made me consider it…
And I said yes.
We signed a contract, and the performance went live on several cities in Spain.
Today, I received an email from the director.
Long story short, due to the way the work has been licensed, contrarily to what we agreed upon, my part of the earnings goes to a Spanish copyright association, I am not a member, and I won’t be able to claim it.
I can obviously enforce him to pay me. The contract clearly specifies that is the company, not any copyright association, the one responsible for paying me. However, after meditating about it, I decided to let it go. I don’t really think it would make me feel better, and I wish them no harm.
Our Sphere Of Impulses
Yesterday I decided to follow the stoic meditation of the day and avoid having opinions, doing judgments, or seeing things as good or bad. Probably the gods decided to punish me for this outrageous insolence.
Today, apart from that email, the universe has sent me one of those days where everything goes wrong. You know the type. One of those days that make you wonder why you made the fatal mistake of getting out of bed.
I have to admit that I have applied the stoic philosophy here, and it has kind of worked…ish. Even if I feel down, it’s a different kind of feeling.
In the end, I sent an email to the director of the company allowing him to use my music anyway, and promising him that I won’t ask him for anything or take any legal action against his company. I sincerely wish them success. And I mean it.
Do I believe in the common good? Unfortunately not. Not at all.
Maybe ten years ago… but not anymore.
Have I become a soulless, pessimistic, nihilist person? I don’t think so. I write this blog trying to share my experiences to help others. And I am always glad when I do a good deed for someone, friend or stranger.
But years and experience have taught me that “no good deed goes without its punishment“. So you need to look after your own interests. Be a good person, but not a fool.
I hope today’s Daily Stoic, “Our sphere of impulses”, wasn’t too pessimistic. After yesterday’s stoic, I decided to try not forming opinions on things. A specially negative day has made it really hard for me today.
Today’s stoic talks about keeping the common good front and center, but years of experience have taught me to be skeptic at least about this concept. While I don’t believe in the basic goodness of mankind anymore, I try to do my best to help others every day… only, in a more careful and thoughtful way.