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a blog by Chris Barrow

A Stoic and 6 Angels

I've returned to The Daily Stoic for my morning contemplative 2-minute read, reminding myself at the start of each day that, as Epictetus suggests:

"Serenity and stability are the results of your choices and judgement, not your environment."

I hark back to a post last week, in which I shared my focus on living with intention, as well as goals, I've decided that 2022 will be a year in which I work harder on achieving the "steadiness, stability and tranquility" that the stoics strive for.

I was presented last night with a perfect example of stoicism from an unexpected quarter - my wife (not unexpected from her but from the circumstances in which she found herself).

Last night Annie was due to drive down to Gloucestershire for a Bridge2Aid meeting today.

Normally a 3-hour drive, she piled the two dogs in the back of our SUV (yes, they were having a treat by being taken along for the ride) and set off from our home at just after 17:00.

I was due to start my weekly client webinar at 19:00 when I took a call from her, telling me that she had pulled onto the M6 at Knutsford and had ground to a halt within moments. 2 hours in and still only a few miles from home.

I finished my client call at 20:00 and called back - she was still sat in pretty much the same place, after a major accident further South, the motorway and a number of junctions were closed. Three hours in and drivers now abandoning overheated cars and climbing over the central reservation to get some fresh air.

At 20:15 I began another hour long webinar and called her again at 21:30 - 4.5 hours after leaving home she had arrived back there, after managing to exit the motorway and negotiate the freezing fog that was descending on the Cheshire plain.

4.5 hours, less than 30 miles covered and back where she started. Two confused dogs. One weary lady.

I shared my sympathy for what must have been a horrid evening - her response was interesting.

At just after 16:00 this afternoon, she had taken the dogs for their usual second walk of the day, a little earlier and in anticipation of the coming journey.

"You know Chris - at 16:00 I took the dogs out and bumped in to no less than 6 of our neighbours en route. Every single one of them wanted to chat and I was slowly getting more anxious as I didn't want to be rude and yet needed to get on with my journey.

Eventually I got back home and set off about 15 minutes later than I had intended.

Later on, I heard on the radio that the accident on the M6 had happened about 15 minutes before I joined the traffic.

I'm going to think of those neighbours as my 6 guardian angels."

The essence of the stoic philosophy is to control the controllable and to be steady, stable and tranquil when dealing with all else.

You and I will share with our grandchildren stories of what it was like when the world suddenly became far less controllable than we were used to.

History will record how we responded to that.

Annie taught me a lesson last night - there were no tears and snorters from her, no raging against the unfairness of it, no despair at having missed out on an evening with friends - just a simple and stoic acceptance of her situation and a controlled decision (when it became possible) to return to the safety of her home.

We can all do well to learn from this - and to focus on staying calm under pressure.

Safe travels today my love.

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