I was reading a little about Seneca this morning. More to the point, I was reading about his enforced suicide. From another angle, can suicide be suicide if you are forced to do it? Suppose it can be if you are a stoic.
Anyway, apart from his death, Seneca had quite a take on the reality of life as opposed to the hopes and desires of all those who participate in it.
In short, life is cruel. Cruelty is a subjective assumption as one person’s cruelty is another person’s enjoyment. Or, even more away from the point, tit could be kindness, indifference, ignorance, or just bliss.
For Seneca, life held that nasty secret called reality. Other people woud argue that reality did not even come close to itself. Reality is just…? Well, isn’t it?
Let’s put reality to one side for a moment so that we can deal with the thing that slips into all of our lives, frustration.
Put simply, frustration is what occurs when our wishes and desires, or outright complacency, meet the brick wall of actuality. The wall is unyielding and uncaring. It may enjoy your foolhardly collision with it, but it doesn’t care a less. Walls, eh?
The walls are there to tell us that we don’t get all that we desire, regardless of how little our hopes may be. When we hit the wall, we stay hit.
What Seneca tells us is that this is the way of things. We should not be prompted into anger, self-pity, outrage, paranoia or hate. Instead, we should accept that or self-regarding emotional responses are only additional barbs inthe whole field of existence; without them, we can learn to cope. Philosophy becomes a crash-cushion and prevents further harm.
Although the wall does not yield, it gives us lessons for dealing with it.