The city of Melbourne is on a knife edge with thousands of coronavirus cases recorded. NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie
The city of Melbourne is on a knife edge with thousands of coronavirus cases recorded. NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie

Stoic wisdom brings ancient tools to fight new virus

Is it just me or did everyone need a little ancient wisdom this week?

Like everyone on earth, I am suffering coronavirus fatigue.

I am sick of talking about it and worrying about it.

I am sick of missing my daughter who lives in the UK and I no longer have any interest in speculation.

Will it come to the Coast?

When should the borders open?

Who will find the first vaccine?

How long before the government runs out of money?

The answer is - no one knows.

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In my darkest hour I stumbled on a quote that changed my day.

It simply said, "No one is coming to save you".

I think I needed to read this 30 years ago.

For all the times I felt helpless or uncertain, I needed someone to remind me, "No one is coming to save you".

Just get on with it mate.

The very next day I was reading what a wise fellow Chicago Bulls famous coach Phil Jackson is and I read this from his 1995 book, Sacred Hoops:

"You see this goblet?" Chaa asked, holding up a glass.

"For me, this glass is already broken.

"I enjoy it; drink out of it.

"It holds water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns.

"If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it.

"But when I put this glass on a shelf and the wind knocks it over and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, 'Of course'.

"When I understand this glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious."

If that is too philosophical, it basically means don't get too attached to things.

Whether you are working in a job you love, having coffee with your mum or tucking your kids in to bed, operate under the premise that favourite activity is already over.

Our legs get old, our loved ones die, and cups break.

By recognising the impermanence of life we can really savour the joy.

I know it sounds harsh, and it might not work for you, but remembering what I love is temporary is liberating for me.

Anyway, because I clearly have too much time on my hands I started googling about my new found wisdom and discovered both concepts come from the ancient practice of Stoicism.

The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the playwright and political advisor named Seneca, and Epictetus, the slave who became a revered teacher are the best known Stoics.

Essentially, they preached justice, perseverance, self-control and courage.

Nearly 20 centuries later I reckon a commitment to those four values will still hold you in good stead.

And best of all, none of the Stoics had even heard of COVID-19.


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