A recent edition of The Daily Stoic made the point that our present lives are “messages for the future.” How we react to present misfortunes informs our ability to weather future adversity. If we have formed the habit of seeing life’s ups and downs as inevitable, as a part of being alive, we are in a better position to withstand the low points of our future lives.
Reframing the idea, our present is the product of our past, some of which is under our control, most of which is not. So, I ask myself, what in the past made me who I am today? What past events or experiences contributed to my present personality and character?
My beloved Grandfather’s Baptist faith and the Counterculture of the 60’s and 70’s were, I believe, formative “messages from God.” An abusive father and a recurrent, clinical depression were “messages from the Evil One.” Or, if you want to be less mythological, they were positive and negative experiences that had to be integrated into my personality, my mode of being. And so, the (relatively) calm and mature Quaker that I am today was the result of God and the Devil fighting for my soul. God won out—but I know that there will be struggles in my personal future.
While I may presently look to the Stoic philosophers for help as I pass into old age, my main recourse must surely be the Inner Light, which—if I habitually live in that Presence now—will more faithfully illuminate my path to come.
~ Richard Russell
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