The Daily Stoic for March 24th. “There Is Philosophy In Everything”.
“Eat like a human being, drink like a human being, dress up, marry, have children, get politically active—suffer abuse, bear with a headstrong brother, father, son, neighbor, or companion. Show us these things so we can see that you truly have learned from the philosophers.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 3.21.5–6
Today’s stoic is, in my mind, a continuation of The Sign Of True Education, from two days ago. That stoic meditation claimed than a diploma is just one part of your education. Living, experiencing and getting to know other people and cultures brings you the real learning. The one you can’t find at any university class. It’s not part of any college’s study plan.
I completely agree with that.
Someone told me once that everything is in the books, that experience is useless, and that true knowledge belongs to the libraries and the minds of the great philosophers and intellectuals. I cannot believe that. I think that the words are there, and it’s great to know them, but you need to experience things in order to bring meaning to those words.
There Is Philosophy In Everything
In 2004, I traveled to Japan to present my paper at the Aizuwakamatsu university and work there for some time. It was my first trip outside Spain. I’d never taken a flight before. One day, I ran out of cash, and my western card didn’t work in the ATMs near my flat. Desperate because I wasn’t able to find one, I asked a stranger where to find another ATM.
It was late at night, and this man had just left work. He should had been really tired. However, he took me, by the hand, to the closest ATM and, as my card didn’t work there either, he accompanied me for almost one hour, visiting probably all cash machines in the city. Finally, equally mesmerized, extremely grateful and embarrassed, I thanked him and asked him to go home.
Even today, when I do the slightest, smallest good deed, I remember that stranger in Japan that helped me not just find an ATM, but become a better person.
There’s philosophy there.
In 2010, I decided to tour Iceland. I traveled there, rented a jeep and drove through the ring road for a month, sleeping in guest farms along the way. On certain occasion, the car got stuck on a mud area.
I was unable to get it out of there.
The area looked like a swamp but the ground was actually hot and smoky. I was completely scared, I was outside the main road and hadn’t seen anybody for hours. I spent more than six hours until I was finally able to move the wheels enough to start the engine and get out of the place. Every time I face a difficult situation, that moment serves me as a reminder that I have gone through worse.
There’s philosophy there too.
Today’s Daily Stoic is, in my opinion, a natural continuation of the stoic meditation from Thursday. Indeed, “There Is Philosophy In Everything” is a teaching that definitely resonates with me. It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve read. You need to get out there and experience things in order to bring meaning to the words.