“Whenever you find yourself blaming providence, turn it around in your mind and you will see what has happened is in keeping with reason.” – Epictetus, Discourse, 3.17.1
This semester I’m taking a class on role ethics. Last Tuesday we were asked for paper topics, more specifically if we had a thesis and brief summary. After sharing what I had my professor was constructively critical. He asked that a look more for an argument, and present the material less like a blog post. Initially I was taken aback. Blogs can be valuable sources of information, or, like what I’m attempting to do here, can offer insight into a mode of thinking about being human.
He was correct in his assessment. There is a distinct difference between making an argument and offering an opinion. An argument discloses the complexity of a position. It takes into account both the argument and counter argument. The argument forces us to use reason to appreciate what we can understand, but also what is unknown.
Today’s meditation focuses on how we can be myopic about the complexity of the world. What happens when we don’t get our way? Do we react with anger, or frustration? It’s easy to get caught in the idea that there is but one way to reach a goal. If there is any deviation, if it requires more time than expected, then we feel slighted.
This is an illusion. What do we know of the future that presumes a greater benefit from the plan we laid out? How sure are we that what we think we want is best for us? What if our loss is a more important gain for someone else? It is much easier to look back on what has happened, and through reason make sense of the circumstances. Knowing this why would we allow ourselves to be overcome when things don’t go our way?
Lastly, Epictetus would ask that we consider more important the interior of the person, what guides them, rather than focus on results.
 ‘Yes, but someone who is unjust comes off better.’ In what? In money. For in that regard he has the better of you because he flatters people, because he has no shame, because he stays awake at night. Is there anything surprising in that?  But look to see whether he is better than you in being trustworthy and honest. Because you’ll find that not to be the case; but rather, in those things in which you’re superior to him, you’ll find that you’re the one who is better off.
Life has many moving parts, and we are but one of them.