This post feels like I go in a few directions, but trust me, they are related.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to my faithful readers that the quote above is one of my favorites from Epictetus. It is so effectively simple; cut and dry. Who do you want to be? You know? Good, now go do what you must to be that. In my mind, Epictetus follows it up with, “Otherwise, shut the fuck up. You’re not fooling anyone.”
It might seem overly simplistic, but it is good to take some time and think about this quote. I know that I need a clear direction on where I want to go with my life, so as I act, I ponder this quote. I use it as a guide, something to offer course correction. Today, let’s reflect on a few things to help move us closer to being and doing what we want to be and do.
We already won the lottery in life.
Seriously. I like listening to Gary Vaynerchuk and he’s mentioned, more than a few times that the odds of being born are 700,000,000,000 : 1. Think about that number for a moment…Seven Hundred BILLION to ONE. That’s some pretty amazing odds, how many times could you win the actual lottery compared to those odds? Further, if you have the good fortune of living in a Westernized society, especially in America, even if you are poor, by and large you make more money than the rest of the world. So, you truly have won the lottery of “life” at birth so no more excuses.
You won the lottery, what are you going to do with it?
Our appointment with Death is coming, Memento Mori.
Death is coming… foryou.
We need to reconcile ourselves with this fact and with an exception or two, we won’t have control over when, how and why we die. Every minute you live is one minute closer to the time you find out for yourself what lies beyond this mortal coil. Memento Mori…
Become Legend…Seek Immortality.
I told a friend recently, “Immortality is found in how long one can be remembered… I still have work to do.”
I’ve written about this before.
Think about the masses of people who have passed on before you in the vast number of millennia before you came to this world. “Everyday” Joe and Jane’s whose stories lived on only as long as they were remembered and then like the dust they became, blew away. It stands to reason that we, too, will live on only as long as the memory holds in the hearts and minds of those who remember.
And for the most part, that’s about it. So why not shoot for something higher and in a way, become a Legend.
In a mental exercise, begin with your funeral; your own eulogy – what should be said about you? What great feats, memories and value did you create worthy of retelling? Look forward into the years beyond your death, ask yourselves, “How much farther down the road will my story be told?”
I remember my Great Grandmother but I don’t have many stories to tell, none that are of consequence or “worthy” of countless retellings. It sounds callous, she was family, after all. But I wasn’t raised on any of my parents memories of her, either. I have zero stories to tell of my Great Grandfather or anyone before him.
Their “legends” are fading fast…
Pursuing the Asymptote
One solid counter thought I would offer up to the previous thoughts about becoming a Legend is this: Even if you aren’t remembered, did you make life worth it for you? Were you who you wanted to be and did you do what you wanted to do? Will you die with Regret or Satisfaction in the chasing of Life?
Ask yourself, “Is what I am doing, right now, taking me to where I want to be and who I want to be?”
I would say you could do both, have your Legendary Cake and eat it too! But this isn’t a “you can do anything post” or anything like that. The “just be yourself” and “you are perfect just the way you are” mantras are tepid, stagnant water in a world desperately needing hot water for cleansing and cold water for refreshing. Is being yourself, “just the way you are”…right now… getting you where you want to be?
My Pursuit of Mastery is ultimately a pursuit of Purpose and Meaning.
I want to avoid that “Quiet Desperation” lived by so many by having an Unquenchable Fire fueling a Purposeful Direction; bringing Meaning and Satisfaction into my life.
As a friend recently told me, “Mastery is an Asymptote.” I’m in pursuit of that ever expanding line of improvement. What that requires is an almost cyclical, yet upward pattern of growing, learning, struggling, reaching and breaking through. Continually going into and coming out of the chrysalids of life into higher levels of improvement and growth. To what end does this pursuit of Mastery, Purpose and Meaning offer for me? Who and what do I want to be?
Down in the deep recesses of my being, freedom is what rings out. I want to be free. I need to be free. I must be free. This is my general heading and as I act, as I pursue Mastery over myself, as I pursue Purpose and Meaning to my life. Freedom offers course correction. But now, I must return to Epictetus and put into words what this Freedom looks like for me.
And then do what I must do.
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