Stubbed Toe Stoicism

I've spent the past month moving from one apartment to the next.  My friends helped me move the big items in a single day. They hefted all the bookshelves and dressers, the couch and the tv, down the flight of stairs and into a U-Haul truck. My job, self-appointed, was to move the content of the home. Every day I lugged around boxes of books, glassware, and clothing...mostly books. My wife and I love to be surrounded by books! As Cicero said, a room without books is like a body without a soul. In this same month we've been increasing our visits to the hospital to check on our soon to be born little girl. She's still an unreasonably tiny thing but she dances around in there so, all in all, things are great.

Moving is a great way to practice Stoicism. It's a process that is more than willing to bolster your frustrations if you allow it. There's the physical pains of knuckles scraped on door frames, toes slammed into...everything, and a back that wishes you'd remember to lift with your legs. At the same time, your emotional life can fall prey to the pressure of time constraints, the monotony of scrubbing down kitchens, or an imagined future battle with landlords over deposits. Moving can be a fruitful time to learn about yourself!

I spent a lot of time with Epictetus' Handbook these last weeks. Actually, I'd be writing about Chapter 29 this very moment if I'd remembered to bring a copy with me. However, I'm thankful to be reminded of the importance of daily practice. Moving month injected enough newness into my routine that I could clearly watch my mental habits. Every bumped shin allowed me to critique my reaction. This is more difficult in my standard day. My approach to slow traffic, for instance, has become rote. Because of this, I don't really dissect my mental game until evening when I do a retrospective meditation. Moving apartments has reinvigorated a more thoughtful practice.

I suppose I'm recommending moving as a part of daily Stoic practice?  Maybe that would be a bit much? I guess what I really encourage is the intentional use of irregular moments as a spotlight on our initial reactions to life. It's those initial moments that need to be wrestled with if we are to avoid handing over our happiness to things outside our control.