Iteration or Something Like It

Habits begin to form at the very first repetition. After that there is a tropism toward repetition, for the patterns involved are defenses, bulwarks against time and despair...Of course there was no such thing as a true repetition of anything; ever since the pre-Socratics that had been clear, Heraclitus and his un-twice-steppable river and so on. So habits were not truly iterative, but pseudoiterative. The pattern of the day might be the same, in other words, but the individual events fulfilling the pattern were always a little bit different. Thus there was both pattern and surprise, and this was Wahram's desired state: to live in a pseudoiterative. But then also to live in a good pseudoiterative, an interesting one, the pattern constructed as a little work of art. 
-Kim Stanley Robinson, 2312

I'm working on a stoic daily routine. Exciting, I know. I guess I could say daily ritual and gain the patina of ancient spirituality that "ritual" implies, but I'm willing to stick with the less grandiose term. A routine is necessary if I'm ever going to build consistency into my view of the world around me, and stoicism is all about point-of-view.

I'm already a fan of a patterned day. I'm big on easing into the morning. Wake up, make breakfast, sip coffee, shave (slowly with a straight razor if I have the time), shower, drink more coffee while perusing Google News, etc... It shouldn't be that difficult to add some intentional meditation, a mantra, the sacrifice of a goat to Zeus (not actually a thing), or some other helpful device to keep my attention focused during the day.

Evenings are covered. The ancient stoics pretty consistently recommend retrospection at the end of the day. Before going to sleep, I can review how I used my hours. I can look at both my failures and my triumphs and seek to learn from them. I've practiced this on and off and found it helpful. It's calming and, when I wake up, I remember, "Hey, X got under my skin yesterday so I better be prepared if it happens again today."

My mornings are more up in the air. I usually remind myself of a Marcus Aurelius quote,

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can't tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own - not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine.

Stoics are big on remembering that obstacles are going to be there whether you're prepared or not, so it's better to be prepared. I have a variety of other quotes stored in Evernote and I take time to review them as well. What I haven't decided is if I want to set aside fifteen minutes or half an hour just to center myself. Also, I have no idea how I would go about centering myself.

I opened with the Robinson quote because I love that view of life, the pseudoiterative. Like the character Wahram, I also want my day to be a little work of art. Stoicism gives me the tools I need to live that out. I just need to use them more consistently.

Immortal Power: Plug It In!

I attend MaxFunCon every year with my wife. MaxFunCon is a wild weekend of creativity and camaraderie hosted by the Lorne Michaels of podcasts, Jesse Thorn. I can not recommend the event enough. It gets the blood flowing and makes you want to conquer the world in the name of awesomeness. Every year, Jesse and his friend Jordan Morris gift the Maximum Fun community with a theme. Last year's was More Powerful Than Ever: Going Ape. For some people, 2013 will be the year of the Snake, but for amazing people, 2013 is the year of Immortal Power: Plug It In! 

Now, I haven't updated this blog since October. It is obvious that I did not go ape enough. I could mention the chore of holidays and the lure of other projects, but those are excuses. Stoicism doesn't have room for excuses and ,obviously, excuses are anathema to anyone who is plugging into Immortal Power. That said, I am demanding better of myself


  • I finish novel number one and push it into the face of publishers
  • I practice and discuss Stoicism like it's going out of style, which it has
  • I blaze a trail down my career path like a machete wielding adventurer
  • I don't alarm co-workers with imagery like, "machete wielding"
  • [placeholder for secret project]

There you go. I want to thank Zeno, Epictetus, Aurelius, Christy Lynn, and all Maxfunsters for the epic year that I am about to create. Immortal Power: Plug It In!