Emails from a modern stoic – Letter 3

Mate, you forwarded me that email from “your friend”, as you call her. You then go on to tell me to avoid discussing your stuff freely with her, since you really don’t share the truth with her yourself either. In other words you have described her as being a friend and then suggested in the same email that she is not. 

Now if you were using that word friend in a kind of general sense and not according to its definition. Calling her “friend” in the same way we say “he slayed her” (but she is alive), or when we call someone we run into in the street “mate”, even though we don’t remember their name, we can let this pass.

But if you are looking at your friend (or your friend list on social) and you do not trust them as you trust yourself, you are making a mistake, and have failed to truly realise the full benefit of true friendship. You should be able to discuss everything with a friend. 

You should be willing to do anything for a friend, like Steve Rogers (https://youtu.be/w6keOy37GQA).

Captain America vs Bucky – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

“But before you form a friendship, consider in your mind the person themselves. After a friendship is formed you must trust, but before that you must judge”.

Seneca

People who, contrary to this idea, judge a person after they have made them their friend instead of the other way round, certainly put the train before the tracks. 

Think for a long time, whether or not you should bring a person into your friendship circle. But when you have decided to do so, welcome them heart and soul, and speak as unreservedly with them as you would with yourself. 

I get it, its fucking hard to live in a way that means you have your shit together, that you could say anything to any one (even your enemy) and that be fine. Imagine if you could speak your truth every moment, to anyone, in the same way you might think in your own mind.

BUT, that is not the world we live in right now. There are things that happen, things we think or do, which we simply could not say aloud, these things you should share with your friend. All your worries and deliberations, the things that would get you ‘cancelled’ if you were to post it online.

Regard your friend as loyal, and you will make them loyal. 

Seneca

Peoples

“fears of being deceived has taught people to deceive them; by their suspiciousness they give them the right to do the wrong thing by them”.

Seneca

Why should I keep back anything when I’m with a friend? Why shouldn’t I imagine I’m alone when I’m in their company? There are certain people who share everything online, their inner most thoughts, things that should only be confided to friends, unburdening themselves of whatever is on their minds onto any platform they please. Others are shy of confiding in their closest friends, and would not even let themselves, if they could help it, into the secrets they keep hidden deep down inside themselves. We should do neither of these mate. 

Trusting everyone is as bad as trusting no one (though I think the first is the worthier approach and the second the safer one). It is not to dissimilar to Gary Vee’s approach on giving trust first (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYQKT58ZkXc):

Gary Vee – Give trust, not trust is earned

Similarly, people who are always on the go (that can’t be still in their own skin) and people who are bludgers both merit your disapproval – the former as much as the latter. For being ‘busy’ all the time is not being good at work. It is more like being bad at discipline, it’s the restless energy of a hunted mind. And the bludger, the person that does nothing, goes after nothing is not a zen master, but is spineless and afraid to go after anything that would require hard work.

It reminds me of something I read in Senecas letters, I will change it slightly to reflect our time, he recalled something Pomponius Mela said “some men (people) have shrunk so far into dark corners that objects in bright daylight seem quite blurred to them”. 

So what is my point? We need a balanced combination of the two attitudes. The active person should be able to take things easily, while the person who is inclined towards stillness should be capable of action. Ask nature: she will tell you that she made both day and night.


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