25 November 2013

Stoicism, Day One: Omens

My first day of Stoic contemplation began fairly well. I woke up ten minutes early and thought about the whirlwind day I would have, with the object of leaving work at 7 PM after putting an extra two hours into the paper I am writing.

The day did not go as planned.

While praying to Athênê and Hermês this morning, I nearly dropped the ash-filled incense bowl for Hermês. Mortified, I lit a second stick of incense and apologized.

I should honestly have taken that as an omen that the Gods would not look down on me favorably this week. It was like Hermês was telling me to just go back to bed because the day would be all downhill from there.

It was a cold walk to work.

The first meeting went well. One of my coworkers’ phones started to go off every few minutes about halfway through it, and it was a bit awkward.

Five minutes after the meeting, I found out that the emergency alert system had been activated because reports of someone with a gun on campus had put us into lockdown. Two minutes after learning this, an announcement was made over the intercom. We were in lockdown from 10:30 AM to 3 PM. Some parts of campus were under lockdown until a bit after 7 PM.

The situation today represents the epitome of situations we cannot control. I had a lot of dark thoughts about my own mortality and the uncertainty of survival in a shooter situation, along with the realization that I do not want to die anytime soon. There are things that I would like to make better, such as relationships with family and friends. I would like to have paid off my student loans. A death without enriching relationships and squaring accounts would not be a good one.

It was an anxious and fearful situation, but it was over soon. I walked home in the cold winter darkness (away from the part of campus still under lockdown) and listened to Lana Del Ray’s “Body Electric” while thinking about the Singularity, the various stories I want to get around to writing, and my hunger for more immediate interpersonal relationships. I thought about biohacking and Epictetus and Ghost in the Shell.

There are things I would have done differently, but under the circumstances, it is hard to predict how we will react. I shut down a little emotionally.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am doing some Thanksgiving baking.


Anthony said...

I've been frequenting your blog for a couple of years now but never had the occasion to comment until today. Most of your posts leave me feeling like I should be doing more...you're a mixture of inspiration and discomfiture to me, to be honest. But today I found a post filled with refreshing softness and humanizing vulnerability. On the one hand, I hope your week gets better – keep your head up. And on the other hand…thank you. Thank you for bearing yourself slightly today.

Anonymous said...

Ghost In The Shell is made of awesome, in my opinion.

Glad that situation ended minus any fatalities.

Don't go down the road of thinking, "Coulda, woulda, shoulda". That way madness lies.