Epictetus’ crucial rule of life was to live through and endure things in a brave manner. To endure suffering is to bear the burden of life in a heroic manner, the mark of strong character. Death is not disastrous, what is tragic is to live a loser every day knowing you have drastically missed your mark in fulfilling your intention in life. That intention is your plan to triumph over adversity, overcome anything that comes your way, and become competent in your aptitudes through industrious application and self-mastery.
Practically speaking, no amount of foresight can ultimately prepare you for the incomprehensible disorder related to daily life, the variables are too intricate for any human being to comprehend, and should be left to be determined by divinity. Nonetheless, the indicator that decides how much hardship you can bear during times of disruption is your fundamental temperament. Character will either make you a victim of misfortune through your weakness or will endure the difficulty and come out stronger through opposition. A man with the strength of character will undergo distress without becoming a sufferer of circumstance. A man with a frail spirit will become a casualty to circumstance, for he has not conquered his emotions. The former governs his feelings through exercised detachment, the latter is ruled by them through compulsive action and self-sabotage.
Normality puts fear at ease, the uncommon and unexpected triggers your guards and puts you on the defensive. The unexpected is akin to unknown territory, and thus the unexplored terrain demands extra-ordinariness because invariably, ordinariness is not sustainable in a realm of unfamiliar encounters that you will not be ready for. In other words, when you confront the unknown, you are augmenting your psyche through venturing out into a realm that propels your character to adjust to a domain that utterly transcends the ordinary. On the other hand, your deliberate act of eluding confrontation with terror does not solely influence your good name, it too impacts your friends and family. It is like tossing a stone into a pond, the ripples are pervasive, moving those adjacent to you.
As Emerson once remarked, courage is derived from the recognition of having tackled a thing previously, which in turn generates more bravery. In point of fact, boldly courageous people are not entirely fearless, unless they are psychopaths, they sense fear stroking them. In the same way, you would feel the heat if you were to stand close to a fireplace. Except, courageous people have the nerve to not look away when fear is looking them in the eye and this is a pivotal point because only through encounter will you overcome it.
That being said, the only way to make sense of fear is to confront it irrespective of what uncertainty you may have if you hesitate it will weigh you down enough to paralyse you into inaction. If you are effortlessly swamped by feeling, this is not a consequence of present conditions, but of past remembrance, and this verity will cloud your lucidity and sense of importance, continually procreating failed strategies that do not hit the mark. To move forward and refine your sword, you must insist on confrontation, waging a war on yourself that will polish your disposition.
People tend to become frightened when they are pressed in a state of affairs because they are faced with the burden of performance, growing increasingly muddled and restless over their sense of fear. This is the reason why people shun away from war and action because the responsibility associated with its confrontation is rough and thus, it is not difficult to evade the situation altogether. However, there is a price to be paid, as without responsibility your life is aimless and filled with perpetual hardship. In the short term, it is easier to disregard your duty, but in the long term, you will pay the price with the tragedy of having zero responsibility and living defeated knowing you have utterly missed your mark.
Conflict avoidance comes to be an addiction, a negative feedback loop that eradicates your thirst for battle. Running away from conflict weakens you to the point of stagnancy, it draws you into its snare until it demoralises you because avoidance provokes further apprehension and isolation. To compensate for this state of reality, presence of mind is the countermeasure to psychological weakness. Presence of mind shifts your focus to the present moment, attending to its immediate conditions and getting rid of any preconceived notions that may misrepresent or bend the here and now. It enables you to concentrate on what is important and stamping out what isn’t. This clarity gives you sufficient vision, and it also compels you to unfasten from your ideologies and ways of thinking that you have clung to.
Furthermore, presence of mind is a calm composure amidst the disorder of life, it demands your strength of will, an amplified firmness of purpose. The capacity to endure disruption in a calm and unperturbed manner is a superior position and a mark of real fortitude. However, so long as you are holding on to excess baggage from the past, you are incapable of such a state of mind because you will be constantly preoccupied with that which is not of importance to the immediate present. Lastly, learn to find solace in hardship, as there is no privation without some repose. Meaning could be found even in the most acute of situations, there is some sense even in the most devastating conditions, and if you can identify it and find some ease in it, perhaps the terrible burden becomes a little more bearable. A chief general must have the ability to maintain his composed manner in both good and adverse positions, a Stoic man, even under severity, maintains adequate balance and sensibility, unbroken by keen emotions.
A sense of urgency from external factors stimulates growth. Urgency generates insistence and determination, making you more resourceful and less timid. Timidity weighs you down and makes you ill-protected, it compresses but never expands you, and it sustains itself through mental narratives that are misapprehensions of reality. Moreover, timidity lacks a sense of rationality and pragmatism that is essential to efficiency. Let urgency be your moving force, pinning you to a wall, where your only choice is to move ahead, never backward. Contrary to popular opinion, you do not have to be prepared in every respect to act, and too often, playing the waiting game is merely postponement because you know you are nervous and prolonging inaction is more comforting than confrontation.
Remember: If you lose your equilibrium when your margin of error is minute, it is more intimidating and thus, it generates extra vigour to prevent miscalculation at all cost. Very often, this is what is necessary to pull you out of your ordinary ruts and expose you to the realm of both rapture and terror where much is unforeseeable and unpredictability is commonplace. Act before you are ready, therefore, to avert uncertainty. The warrior has a swift manner, confronting his duty immediately.
Ultimately, the deliberation of death is of great importance, do not let the thought be overlooked, consider it while you are here as it is approaching. Furthermore, it is liberating when death is gazing at you amidst a critical moment, as it induces animation and ingenuity, generating incredible drive and motive that suddenly augments your energy tenfold. People, many a time adapt only when condition necessitates and if there is no sense of urgency, they will unearth means for escape. Conversely, when a backup plan is not an alternative, you have the weightiness of necessity driving you, recognising that if you fall flat there is no safety net to salvage your disaster.