‘Unstuck, unfucked and unleashed’ – The obstacle is the way, Ryan Holiday

I’ve decided to take my blogging a little bit more seriously (again). Almost like a grownup. Although there’s got to be something said for taking the blog of someone who just sprayed himself in the eye with screen cleaner seriously. In my defence it’s was quite difficult to see (now impossible) which way the nozzle was facing. Gently formulated to burn like matches. Who needs coffee when you can self medicate with a shot of Isopropyl* directly into your cornea every morning. Goddamn…

* noun. 1. of or denoting the alkyl radical —CH(CH3)2, derived from propane by removal of a hydrogen atom from the middle carbon atom.

I have no idea how to segue that opening into a coherent follow up paragraph. Until recently segue wasn’t even part of my vocabulary. Embarrassingly I used to think segue was spelled Segway and that it was a proper noun that became a verb. Like when you Xerox something. Do you keep the capital in situations like this? I sense someone rolling his or her eyes at me right now and getting all judgmental (and potentially getting ready to pen a sardonic comment). Still… I feel confident that I can recover and salvage a long meandering tirade from all of this… maybe.

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Stegosaurus used for scale.

I’m drinking white pomegranate tea. It’s supposed to be (super) healthy for you. But mostly it’s a hot drink substitute for coffee. I’m trying to cut down on my stimulant intake. I have this ideal concept of self where I exist in this perfect mindful state, free of extraneous influences. Its good to have goals… even if they are unlikely to be totally achieved or fully realized. Back when I was fighting regularly I’d start my day with two crushed up Ibuprofen chased with a Red Bull and a double espresso. And that was just to get myself out of bed and into the office. Usually by 10am or so I could feel the rotation of the planet and the gentle hum of the universe expanding at sixty nine kilometers per second.

I’ve come a long way since then, but recently I’ve found myself slipping and needing that caffeine crutch again. The problem is I really like coffee. I’m not a connoisseur by ANY stretch of the imagination… for the most part I like my coffee in a disposable cardboard cup with a plastic lid. I know, I’m espousing heresy on such a massive scale I should expect the inquisition banging at my door at any moment. ‘Hello, hello, hello… what’s all this then?’ (in my mind the inquisition is, and always will be, British)

I’m trying (and mostly failing) to drink one three coffee type drink(s) per day. (Trying being the operative word) For a while I made it bulletproof coffee. Instead of butter I’d use coconut oil. It’s supposed to do something cognitively for you. Then again I often imagine my mind like a hamster wheel. Only the hamster is dead. Fortunately the wheel hasn’t stopped turning just yet, so I can still dress and feed myself without missing my mouth. (Some might debate the latter) Coconut oil isn’t going to do anything for him anymore. The hamster I mean. Except maybe make him smell a little more tropical.

In any event if you’re going to continue reading this blog I need to warn you, that, broadly speaking the the quality of the writing here resembles the microbial bacteria that lives in the water, that collects in the little plastic container that holds your toilet brush, co-inhabiting this space with tiny bits of fecal matter. It will likely do nothing for you but nurture your misanthropy and potentially give you gastroenteritis of biblical proportions, the likes of which the sensitive skin around you rectum will never forget or forgive you for.

If you’ve made it this far I can only suggest to you that TODAY might be the day! Grab the emergency crucifix and load up that revolver with the silver bullets. You know just in case. Good luck out there. Take very few prisoners. And don’t touch the hand railing on the escalator. You may get hepatitis.

Plus, Minus and Equal

I first read about this concept in Ryan Holidays, Ego is the Enemy, in which he credited Frank Shamrock with a learning concept he called Plus, minus and equal. It’s really one of the better learning concepts I’ve read about. There was just one problem…


… I really disliked Frank Shamrock (in the way that you dislike someone you have never met, ha ha)… Well, to be fair it was more Ken Shamrock than Frank. I was always a Don Frye fan, which sorta precluded me from liking Ken and therefore by association Frank. Frank Shamrock is Mixed Martial Arts champion, that might not be immediately apparent to people who aren’t into that sort of thing. Ken was his brother. (After reading Frank’s autobiography I found out that they were actually foster brothers and in no way related) In the early days of Pride and UFC I really liked a mustachioed freestyle wrestler named Don Frye. Ken and Don had a bit of feud going. In one really horrible, bloody bout Ken repeatedly ankle locked Don really damaging him. (Don eventually became addicted to pain killers as a result of this bout). Don Frye would not tap and eventually won the bout by split decision. That cemented Don in my mind as one the toughest fighters that ever lived. It also made me actively root against anyone whose surname was Shamrock.

Continue reading “Plus, Minus and Equal”

You dropped your rock

There is an old Zen story about a king whose people had grown soft and entitled. Dissatisfied with this state of affairs, he hoped to teach them a lesson. His plan was simple: He would place a large boulder in the middle of the main road, completely blocking entry into the city. He would then hide nearby and observer their reactions.


How would they respond? Would they band together to remove it? Or would they get discouraged, quit and return home?

With growing disappointment, the king watched as subject after subject came to this impediment and turned away. Or at best, tried half-heartedly before giving up. Many openly complained or cursed the king or fortune or bemoaned the inconvenience, but none managed to do anything about it.

Continue reading “You dropped your rock”

The worst Stoic ever

I am undoubtedly the worst stoic ever. The garden variety cactus on my desk displays more apathea and general Zeno-ness than I could ever muster. For its crimes and in a display of churlish petulance I am depriving it of water. Which, typically, it seems to be taking in its stride. Annoyingly I seem to gravitate more towards Nero than Seneca. Albeit without ever having burned down a city (allegedly) or committing matricide.


Seneca however is not my stoic of choice. I like a more clear cut exemplar. For me Seneca was either the best stoic or a sanctimonious douche. I have see-sawed between labelling him as both during my tenure grappling with stoicism. My official position as of now is that I have no position. Besides is this really something I should have an opinion on? I shouldn’t be comparing my adherence to a particular philosophy against someone else. There is no score card or checklist, no certificate at the end of the day displaying your stoic-ness in empirical percentage terms. ‘Congratulations ,with your score you managed to edge out Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss in the category of practical Stoicism’

As an aside… if that does happen I might be tempted to air-punch…. and possibly engage in a victory lap. Or two. I am sad to admit there is even a slight chance of some dance moves being perpetrated upon the world. See opening line, paragraph one.

Marcus is more my kind of stoic. If only because I read Meditations before I read the Moral letters to Lucilius. Marcus just seems so much cooler than Seneca. Coolness clearly being a factor when I was younger and more impressionable. Besides Seneca messed up his own suicide, that doesn’t speak volumes for his prowess to get things done. Marcus on the other hand was martial and a man of action. But he was also humble and practiced forgiveness and that seemed to sit better with me. When he wasn’t putting Christians and Germanic tribes to the sword I mean (or doing a REALLY bad job raising his son). Generally speaking we are more skeptical these days when it comes to following the personal philosophy of a modern day genocidal despot. But if you choose the operating system of an ancient warmongering autocrat with imperial tendencies, that’s totally fine. Maybe in two thousand years Idi Amin will spawn his own cult of adherents. If Homo Sapiens is still around obviously.

Still the intervening years have made us a slightly more genteel species and curbed some of our more basic tendencies. Stoicism has aged well. That can’t be said for many other philosophies or even belief systems. I think stoicism to is credit allows us interface with it at our own pace. We can implement it piecemeal as and when we become ready. As my appreciation for this astounding system grows I find it becomes more accessible to me. I am not sure if that is everyone experience.

In event, my intention is not to remain the worst stoic ever. I am aspirant to move onto ‘slightly better than worst stoic’ in the near future and then potentially see how we go from there. Wish me luck.


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For more misadventures and wayward interpretations of stoicism, as well as examples of paragons that are WAY better at this than me, you can find all my posts collated…