East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Stoic Week day 6: Resilience

We go back to Marcus Aurelius again, and the guy is at it again with the following…

Be like the headland, on which the waves break constantly, which still stands firm, while the foaming waters are put to rest around it. ‘It is y bad luck that this has happened to me.’ On the contrary, say, ‘It is my good luck that, although this has happened to me, I can bear it without getting upset, neither crushed by the present nor afraid of the future.’ This kind of event could have happened to anyone, but not everyone would have borne it without getting upset.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4.49

In the end, for the Stoics, it’s what we carry that counts – so if the outside world sucks, the important thing is that I am able to tap my own personal mental resources to weather the storm.

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Stars so close you can touch them

1aa4d461-d737-4eeb-acc8-3fd1dbc672e4My father used to say that the nights are so clear and silent here in the countryside, you can sit in the courtyard at night and feel like you are floating in space, and you can stretch your hands, and touch the stars.

Last night I was in the courtyard.
At 11 pm we had 26°C and 83% humidity.
Like being at the bottom of the Tethys sea, that used to be here a few million years ago, but with none of the perks, and mosquitoes too.
The local festival was going full tilt, and a cheap band was playing on the town square, doing poor covers of novelty songs from the ‘60s. All the dogs in the neighborhood felt the need to vent their disapproval, howling their hearts out.
It was a good approximation of hell.

But then it all stopped, and by one pm it was all quiet and still like my father used to say, and there was even a faint breath of cool air. I was in the courtyard, and looked up at the sky, and saw Mars, burning red above the roofs of the houses.
And I lifted my arms, like I was heeding to its call.
And I felt silly, and went in and drank an ice cold tea to the health of John Carter. Continue reading

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Edgar Rice Burroughs

Today’s the birthday of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the writer responsible for the creation of characters like Tarzan, John Carter, David Innes and many other friends that kept me company when I was a solitary kid in suburban Turin.

Edgar Rice Burroughs