I’ve never felt less stoic.
I’m essentially a walking raw nerve. I’ve just gotten divorced, ejecting from a 15-year marriage straight into a global pandemic, a combination of facts that’s so theatrical and bizarre, it makes me laugh. The news is terrifying and relentless and there is no plot.
“This is a lot,” I sagely tell my children. “This is a lot, and so no wonder if you feel strange.” Then I go to bed and lie there sleeplessly and ponder my main philosophical query these days: What the actual fuck?
I need something like religion at this point. Because this really is a lot. It’s too much. Existential situations require reaching beyond your go-to comforts. Meditation, yoga, and Netflix binges are no longer going to cut it. I need something more transformative.
Here at Forge, where I’m an editor, many of our most popular stories are about an ancient but resurgent philosophy: Stoicism.
It’s everywhere. Just ask the 326k+ members of the r/Stoicism Reddit community, or the 81k+ members of the Stoicism Facebook group. Joe Rogan’s into it. Athletes, like the New England Patriots! Billionaires, like Jeff Bezos and Mark Cuban! Probably those guys dopamine-fasting in Silicon Valley!
But I’ve never really gravitated toward this most macho of philosophies. What could it possibly have to teach me, a Brooklyn mom who loves tea and novels and feelings?
It was in late May, as I was reading this story by one of the most vocal proponents of Modern Stoicism (and one of Forge’s most popular writers), Ryan Holiday, that I asked myself the question that anyone who’s ever joined a cult asks, right before heading over to the “get-to-know-us” mixer: “Why not?”
After all, Zadie Smith knocked out of a book of essays inspired by reading Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations during quarantine — if it’s working for her, why not for me? Why not look toward something that feels alien in a time when everything feels so weird? So in lieu of attending a drive-in megachurch service, I began exploring Stoicism.