“This is the true athlete – the person in rigorous training against false impressions. Remain firm, you who suffer, don’t be kidnapped by your impressions! The struggle is great, the task divine – to gain mastery, freedom, happiness, and tranquility.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 2.18.27-28
Today’s meditation leverages weather as an example of how to be focused on the present to better manage our impressions. It notes that today we have a litany of information at our disposal. No longer are we solely at nature’s whim. Multiple weather channels, websites, and applications allow us to prepare for future events. Hundreds of years ago humanity wasn’t so fortunate, and even today those in more remote or underprivileged locations have limited or means of preparing in advance.
Yet even with all our advances nature can still remind us we have far to go. While hurricanes can be tracked days in advance, earthquakes are still events for which advanced notice is limited at best. In that light, the meditation reminds us that when a hurricane is approaching (and as someone who lives in Florida I can attest to this) if any damage is incurred it’s because folks were not prepared.
Consider further those who live in “Tornado Alley”. They may have their own underground shelters, or they are very familiar with where they need to go that is graded as a tornado safe building.
Just last night I had a conversation with my daughter who is in the throes of planning for college. She spoke of how stressful it is. Those teachers impress upon them the need to perform well to get into a “good college”. I asked her, “What do you consider a good college? You know not everyone has the same idea of what ‘good’ is in this context.” My point was that all she needs to worry about was preparing for tests, preparing for auditions and properly researching colleges that meet her present goals. If she only lists one college, she is surely setting herself up for a greater potential to fail. There are so many colleges that are capable of giving her the education she desires. It simply requires research.
This meditation goes so well with tying our happiness to future states. All we can do is prepare for the future. Maybe we get what we want. Maybe we have to compromise. Either way, we are fortunate to continue moving forward.