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“The Stoic Traveler: Dealing with Difficulty on the Road”
There is a certain inevitability of life’s challenges in a life fully lived. Traveling is no exception. Even a well planned trip has the propensity for peril and unexpected events. For some of us, the most alluring aspect of any new or novel experience is the unknown, the unrendered parts, the “to be determined” details. Our ability to tolerate the intolerable and to become comfortable with the uncomfortable is a necessary condition of traveling. Being away from our familiar routes and routines can open our eyes to new insights, but can also confirm our preferences. Being a stranger in a strange place can draw us into a persona of the conspicuous newcomer, which can engender a feeling of vulnerability and isolation.
Taking a Stoic approach to the potential pitfalls associated with traveling can build resilience. Relative to traveling challenges, we can explore topics regarding ethics, the right and wrong treatment of ourselves and others (the concept of oikeiosis), plus that adversity can be a great teacher. We will consider the Stoic concept of externals and factors which we cannot control, but rather must come to accept. And coping with the myriad of emotions associated with these virtuous endeavors and undertakings.
This Sunday we will discuss the difficult aspects of traveling and the Stoic way of dealing with setbacks encountered while on the road through the teachings of Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. Additionally we will consider a poem by Matthew Arnold, “Dover Beach” (1867), which describes nature as always changing: unpredictable landscapes and our having to live with uncertainty and difficulty from a place of utter acceptance.
Please join us this Sunday for a lively discussion regarding travel and our inner journey. Please bring a personal story of your own turbulent travels to share with the group!
Seneca’s Letter 107 (read paragraph #1 on travel)
Marcus Aurelius: Justice and the Cosmopolis (read section #3)
Poem – Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold (1867)
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