The Daily Stoic for July 4th, “Protect the flame”.
“Protect your own good in all that you do, and as concerns everything else take what is given as far as you can make reasoned use of it. If you don’t, you’ll be unlucky, prone to failure, hindered and stymied.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 4.3.11
I find this metaphor quite accurate. For me, this flame inside of us is everything that makes us vibrant, energetic, happy. It’s everything that’s good in us.
During hard times, when we go through stressful periods, when things are going wrong, we don’t have much money, or there are some problems in our relationship, that flame dwindles and starts to disappear. I’ve recently been through such moments and I can’t think of a better way of describing it.
Protect The Flame
After traveling through the Baltics for quite some months now, I can certainly say that the flame can disappear completely. Latvia, especially, is a country with quite a social gap between the rich and the poor. You have loaded ladies driving a Porsche Cayenne to their favorite café next to an old man who can barely walk, and is strongly in need of a good meal and a good shower. It can get really disheartening.
In my case, I am lucky enough not to be in any of those edge cases. For me, money is about being able to have a roof over my head and be able to have dinner at a normal restaurant now and then.
One of the external factors that affect my flame the most is my beloved ones. If they are fine, I shine. However, when they are down, or feeling bad, going through bad times or depressed, that affects me a lot too. More than it should.
So perhaps that’s something I need to work on. Nonetheless, I can’t see myself not reacting to that. Definitely, stoicism still has a lot to teach me on that sense.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Protect The Flame”, uses the metaphor of a flame to illustrate everything that’s good, happy and joyful inside of us. We need to protect that flame, even if it gets difficult sometimes. Because it can really extinguish completely.