22 January 2010

Advice from strange places

If you know me, you know I'm a book collector. We have hundreds of them. Some of them more than 100 years old. Among them, I kept a freshman year college text. Humanties 101 at Mizzou, shout out!

Seriously, I pulled out The Handbook of Epictetus just to see how my perspective may have changed. It has been 15 years since I've cracked this book. Whatever pompous thoughts I had at 18 surely have been altered.

I was pleasantly surprised to recall that much of what this old Greek Stoic rang true then and it rings true now. I sweat the small stuff of life, the petty stuff that gets us down. As a stoic, Epictetus tells you to let it roll. Duck, water and all that. At the end, what we fret about ultimately isn't important.

As the mom of a 13-year-old girl, this passage hit true. More true than it did when I was 18. (Edited to swap "slave boy" for "teenager"):

"When you call the [teenager], keep in mind that he is capable of not doing any of the things that you want him to. But he is not in such a good position that your being upset or not depends on him."


Good advice to all of us with teenagers. Or those of us who will have teenagers. You can't make them do anything. It isn't you. Accept, move on.

Thanks, Honors Humanties Core profs. Sue Crowley and Bill Bondeson, I'm shouting your way. It meant a little something back then. It means a helluva lot more now.

BTW: The RateMyProfessors comment: if only they knew. That was true 15 years ago, right Paula?

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