This morning I had a wonderful hike with my best mate at the nature center near Elm Creek — the air was crisp and clean, wispy high-altitude clouds lightly glazed the morning blue sky, and not a sound save for the sounds of two old dudes hiking through leaf-covered rock and dirt trails and yacking it up about life. I think it was probably one of the more beautiful nature center trails that I’ve hiked in a long time, and even in the state of seasonal decay with all the leaves fallen, streams freezing over, and little trace of life, it was still beautiful how the trails switched back and forth, periodically graced by the presence of Elm Creek.
My words are just completely insufficient to capture the beauty of it all — the crisp air, the way the trails led you through the park, and the way the natural order of things were laid out with almost artistic intent — how fallen trees framed the creek, decorated with moss and signs of new growth halted by the freezing air. It really was a sight to behold.
The added bonus is that I got a 2.6 mile hike in and helped fulfill my daily goal of living a more healthy life. I think that this park (and others like it) might have to become a part of my Sunday morning routine — get out and explore different trails and nature centers, go hiking for a few miles, capture the beauty with my camera, and burn a few calories in the process.
Stoicism as a framework and not a replacement for religion
One thing that came up in our conversation while on the trails was that Stoicism for me isn’t going to be my new “religion” — a replacement for a world of religion, superstition, and blind faith in a deity or system of beliefs surrounding a deity. I have burnt myself out on religion and pursuing different flavors of belief systems, that I really don’t have the stomach or appetite to invest in another belief system that even remotely looks like religion.
Instead, for me, Stoicism is simply structure and a framework for guiding my thoughts, my personal philosophy, and my actions. It reminds me in the phrase memento mori — that I will die one day, and that knowledge, that memento should fuel my creativity and how I live. The words of the ancient and modern-day Stoics remind me to live a life that is virtuous, intentional, filled with the seeking of knowledge and wisdom [better to be rich in the mind, than rich in the hand], and full of purpose.
The last thing that I want to happen, is that this just becomes a temporary fad in my life, a trend that ceases to be when life is going good and it feels like the structure is no longer necessary. Practicing this philosophy in my life has significantly helped with my depression — the fog that typically descends upon me with seasonal depression seems to burn off like when the sun hits Lake Superior on a foggy morning — the fog begins to slowly lift off and clarity is restored. I don’t worry about purposelessness right now, because I set my own purpose. I don’t worry as much about what people think about me because I am setting my own philosophy and basis for living, I am living it out by design, and it matters little what people think. If they don’t like the way I am living, then their opinion of me should matter even less.
Well, on with my day. After I chill out for awhile with the cat and read a little, I need to go clean some kegs and my draught lines on my system so they don’t mold over like they did last year when they sat dormant for the entirety of winter.