Daily Touch of Inspirations

May 21st: What kind of boxer are you?

Ryan Holiday, The 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living

But what is philosophy? Doesn't it simply mean preparing ourselves for what may come? Don't you understand that really amounts to saying that if I would so prepare myself to endure, then let anything happen that will? Otherwise, it would be like the boxer exiting the ring because he took some punches. Actually, you can leave the boxing ring without consequence, but what advantage would come from abandoning the pursuit of wisdom? So, what should each of us say to every trial we face? This is what I've trained for, for this my discipline! ~Epictetus, Discourses, 3.10.6-7

The Stoics loved to use boxing and wrestling metaphors the way we use baseball and football analogies today. This is probably because the sport of pankration- literally, "all strength," but a purer form of mixed martial arts than one sees today- in the UFC was integral to boyhood and manhood in Greece and Rome. (In fact, recent analysis has found instances of "cauliflower ear," a common grappling injury, on Greek statues.) The Stoics refer to fighting because it's what they knew.

Seneca writes that unbruised prosperity is weak and easy to defeat in the ring, but "a man who has been at constant feud with misfortunes acquires a skin calloused by suffering." This man, he says, fight all the way to the ground and never gives up.

That's what Epictetus means too. What kind of boxer are you if you leave because you get hit? That's the nature of the sport! Is that going to stop you from continuing?

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom Perseverance and Art of Living

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