“You are learning how to live. Because you want to be freer, fear less, and achieve a state of peace.” — Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic.
That’s what learning is. Opening a door, one leading from an ordinary world to a journey unknown. They’re rarely smooth. I’ve taken them before. It will challenge me. Sometimes drag me through fire. At other times I’ll feel as if drowning. It's the path to a more successful life.
And every step of the way will open another opportunity. Another view. Yet one closed, if I hadn’t turned the handle.
Without seeking, nothing is found.
1. Finding The Free Flow Of Freedom
“What is the fruit of these teachings? Only the most beautiful and proper harvest of the truly educated — tranquility, fearlessness and freedom.” — Epictetus.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes ‘flow’. That perfectly balanced state where focus, energy and skills meet and merge. Sometimes for hours, a flow state can descend, ignorant of time while magic reveals itself. Magic producing art. Inspiring writing. Creative thoughts. Insights once locked.
That most exquisite peace Epictetus describes as ‘tranquility’. It’s a gift of being present. And it comes with knowing how to breathe into the moment and submerge into it.
It’s the ultimate antidote to boredom. To the restless spirit. To the attention-seeking junkie within.
Writing here, I’m finding a space within opens and softens. A warmth spreads along my arms and reaches fingertips resting on the keyboard. A voice of its own appears. A need to express a thought that’s landed as a gift right here, right now.
I am no more than a vehicle carrying it.
My gift is in the tranquility found by harvesting the knowledge.
In the moments of reflection. On a paragraph. A phrase. An article written with wisdom and insight into how to live more fully and more in this present moment.
Today I’m reading Ryan Holiday’s, The Daily Stoic, and challenging myself to dig deep into the wisdom of the Stoics. If you’re looking for a place to start. This is a good one.
2. Take A Fearless Journey
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” — Albert Einstein.
Change is constant. Change calls for courage. For a fearlessness that’s borne of knowledge. And the wisdom to apply it.
Wisdom requires taking a stand. It asks for firm values. And then tests how firm they are. Against the breeze of change.
It calls for fearlessness. To either stick firm to what’s solid or flex and shift with the new knowledge. Change can offer insights otherwise blinded to by the busyness of keeping schedules and maintaining status quo.
In the gaining of wisdom we’re asked to keep moving. Through times that can feel overpowering. Times where the relentless smashing of waves can feel overwhelming. Yet we are never alone on this journey. Change is the norm. It is the wise ones offering insights to guide us when …
- The health of a loved one declines.
- Through the decaying of mind and body.
- The rotting leaves beneath the tree that once offered shade for others.
Learning how to live gives me the courage to keep going. To continue growing. To avoid sinking into the swamp of a middle-aged softened mind. To fight. Long and hard in the battle. And to harvest the fruit while fearlessly fighting for freedom.
Because the freedom to fight for wisdom is won in the mind. The body merely its willing servant.
3. Make Room For Mental Clarity: Live On Purpose
“Mindfulness is about love and loving life. When you cultivate this love, it gives you clarity and compassion for life, and your actions happen in accordance with that.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn.
So what is knowledge for? What is wisdom for? And does it really matter?
Knowledge and wisdom do not emerge for their own sake. All has purpose. To make meaning from moments. To gain insight otherwise missed. To gain clarity around one’s purpose in life. To bring fulfillment to the act of living.
Learning for learning sake is uninspiring and the passion for it drops fast. Like goals based on process rather than outcome. At times the intention behind learning feels veiled. As if just out of reach.
And that is its intention. A test of resilience. Of perseverance.
To lift the seeking of self-knowledge to an art form. One desirous of pursuit. As one would a lover. A wayward child. An elusive dream vaporising upon your awareness of it.
A mindful moment connects learning to wisdom. As breathe slows and presence is found. Time for pause. To allow wisdom of the mind time to enter the body and be truly felt.
Our work is in connecting the moments through reflection. And the best place I’ve found for this to happen is in a daily journal.
A journal offers a safe place to discover what’s hidden from direct sight.
4. Manage Ever-Present Distractions
“Art is the fatal net which catches these strange moments on the wing like mysterious butterflies, fleeing the innocence and distraction of common men.” — Giorgio de Chirico (Italian artist and writer).
We live in two worlds. An external one. And an internal one.
One filled with expectations and distractions. The other an internal focus on purpose and pleasure. Both intent on having their way.
You know time is fickle. Never enough when busy. Too much when bored.
You know the moment just passed can never be again.
But do you care?
Because in the end our days become journeys explored or pot-holes well-worn. Until the routine of routine and the will of an external world wins and your internal one sinks into a swamp.
Seeking your ‘art’ — the thing you do that brings meaning — doesn’t arrive and tap you on the shoulder ‘like a mysterious butterfly’, letting you know it’s here.
‘Seeking’ is an active word — one requiring a creative and curious mind. One discontent with the everyday wish-wash of routines that can eek energy.
To actively seek, ask questions. Inquire into those everyday moments that others dismiss. It’s in the details that answers lay
5: Ease Into Mindfulness: And The Wisdom Of Great Thinkers
“Serious thinkers are few, and the world is ruled by crude ideas.” — Carl Lotus Becker, The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth Century Philosophers.
We have options. To think. To learn. To create. Or not.
Yet none of these happen in a vacuum.
While mindfulness is a practical tool, my monkey-mind needs support to do it well. So I trick it into a calmer state with a pen or paintbrush, doodling in repetitive strokes and allowing the motion to move where it will.
At other times, it’s in reflection of wisdom from the ancients — the philosophers of old that settles my spirit. The knowing that all has gone before me. And through whatever trials happen my way, answers will be found in the pause, the slowing of breath, the present moment of reflection based on a philosophy around choice of perspective.
All is learning. All is knowledge. The gaining of wisdom is a choice.