The 365 Commitment

Conquer the World

Once upon a time, a rather successful sea merchant of about 30 years of age, lost his ship at sea and was shipwrecked on the outskirts of a harbor of a bustling city. He picked himself off the beach and after a day of hiking wandered into the city. He was sunburned, salt dried in his hair and clothes. The successful merchant man looked like he had been living in a gutter. However, when he arrived he noticed that there were several men that looked just like him. They sat around eating freely from fig trees and drinking wine that seemed to flow freely. They seemed to be accepted by the people in this city, and no one seemed to complain when these disheveled men would laugh and make fun of each passersby.

He eventually wandered into a bookstore that seemed to be one of the hubs of this activity. There was a place to sleep by there and food was plentiful. He seemed to be accepted by what seemed to be his colleagues. He began to frequent this bookstore, that was full of older books mostly hand written and absolutely out of print. He spent his days reading and became fascinated by one of the writers. He wanted to know more about this man’s philosophy. So he read, studied and began asking questions. At one point the bookstore owner pointed out another man that he should talk to. After one conversation with this man, who looked no more affluent then one of the traveling vagabonds, he took on an apprenticeship. He would become a student of this new philosophy.

He joined this man in reveling the rich city folk. He sat on a porch by the bookstore and heckled with the best of them. He become really good at doing shocking things, speaking harshly and constantly mocking anyone that displayed any amount of wealth. He was a homeless student of a homeless founder of a new school of philosophy. He would spend years learning this new school of thought, until one day he would found his own. He founded a school, that was opposed to his original teacher. At age of 42, he founded a new school on the porch of a small home that he built. He ended his career as a merchant, and started teaching in his new school full time. He soon began to build a student population.

He soon became very popular, with many disciples that would take his teachings and go into the world and join the military, get involved in politics, serve in wealthy households, and start their own businesses. At some point, his teachings began to be known as the reason for success in life and he soon become the advisor for the most wealthy politicians in the land. A sense of humility and duty would become his way. Although he died an old man, we have no record of his teachings. All we have is the remains of the civilization that was built from his movement. That of Rome.

My favorite quota from the originator of the Stoic Philosophy, Zeno of Citium, is: “Man conquers the world by conquering himself.” Many men and women have been attributed to that quote throughout the centuries. However, I am pretty sure it was the one that rejected cynicism and became the first stoic.

Guy Reams

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