I’m on holiday and have just come back from the Apollo Bay Hospital after rushing Frank there because Alice accidentally threw a rock at his head.

If I rewind to an hour earlier we were having quite a pleasant afternoon at the beach chatting to some new people I’d like to be friends with. The kids were playing with their daughter and everyone was having a great time.

This picture perfect ‘beach holiday moment’ ended abruptly when Frank let out a tremendous scream, the kind of scream that every parent lifts their head too and just hopes it isn’t their kids' vocals on the end of it.

From 30m away things didn’t look that serious. Alice had started running towards us saying “it was an accident! it was an accident!”. By the time I’d looked back up at Frank, his face was covered in blood. Alice had lobbed a rock and accidentally split Frank's forehead open.

In flurry of sand and swear words, I had Frank in the car holding a towel to his head and Matt was left at the beach to collect our things, pack up the ute and comfort a very upset Alice.

Once we were at the hospital and Frank let the lovely nurse have a look and it turned out that the wound was only about 10mm long, just super deep, hence all the blood. All he needed was a bandaid and Blackcurrent Zooper Dooper.

Everybody was going to be fine.

Ironically I’ve been reading Reasons Not to Worry by Brigid Delaney these holidays - a book about Stoicism and its relevance today, some 2000 years after Seneca (c.4BC - AD 65), Epictetus (AD c.50 - c.135) and Marcus Aurelius (AD 121 -180) brough the whole philosophy together.

Stoicism is an extremely useful and practical philosophy. At its very core it’s about living every day as if it could be your last (because it could be) and not stressing about things we can’t control. Quick note, we can only control our character, our reactions (and actions, but not their outcomes) and how we treat others.

The idea that today could be your last is a rather confronting and alarming way of illustrating how finite time really is. No matter what stage of life we’re in, time is diminishing not accumulating. We have no idea when, where or how we’ll take our last breath but it will happen. Death is the price of being alive.

The Stoics appreciated that life was short and unpredictable and the only way to confront that uncertainty is to face it - head first.

“Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it.” Marcus Aurelius

Death was not feared by Stoics but instead its constant threat was used as a fuel to ignite ones passion for living. Stoicism is living each day as if it was your last because it very well could be. There is a techniqiuc called ‘negative visualisation’ where you imagine the worst case scenario in order to appreciate what you have now.  

You don’t want to get caught on a doom spiral but taking a moment to seriously ask yourself if this actually is my last day on earth then how would you feel about that? This question has two parts, firstly to make you objectively access what your doing with your life. Secondly, to make you take what life you have left and live it properly.

If we realised how short and arbitrary life was, we won’t waste a second.

No-one knows much time they’ve left and the constant distraction of modern life often prevents or even discourages us from reflecting upon our own mortality. ‘Negative visualisation’ is a quick reset of your life’s prioity list. While most people would be offering some enlightening, empowering message as we head into the new year, I’d ask that you take a Stoics perspective think about following:

Think of your own death frequently - if today was your last, how would you spend it?

Imagine your friends are are dying - heartbreaking right, but how much would you tell them you love them next time you hang out?

Preparing for the death of your children - unimaginable. This is what gives stoicism its heartless reputation. Briefly thinking about this immediately brings me to tears but it also makes me pull the kids in close and love them even more.

Most of us move through life as if we’re immortal. The real life ‘negative visualisation’ of our happy beach holiday turned A and E visit was a reminder that we’re in control of much less that we think. That is the point that the Stoics we’re trying to make. The best we can do is make the most of each day and live it like it our last. On that bright note, I wish you all a happy new year!

Video of the week
She, a Christmas tale by J&B
Podcast of the week
The Great Creators: Bjork.
Font of the week
Luna: Font of the week by Teo Tuominen

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