Tag: stoicism

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5000 books. That is the approximate number of volumes I own. Stating this fact is not a matter of arrogance but one of humility. Every time I open one of these covers and turn the pages, I discover again how much I do not know. Often as I read, I shake my head not only […]

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Leave Your Legacy


Last month, we lost iconic character actor Harry Dean Stanton. A rangy Kentuckian with a prematurely craggy face, he was a fixture in American cinema for the past half century. His presence drew the viewer into his world-weary eyes, wondering about the depth behind them. All the while, he possessed an innate cool; a Hollywood version of Johnny Cash.

Reading various encomia about his passing, I came across one tidbit I can’t stop thinking about. A few years back, his similarly spooky friend David Lynch posed a question to Stanton: “How would you like to be remembered?”

Stanton’s answer: “It doesn’t matter.”

The Last Possible Good Failure


shutterstock_90261658I’d probably make a lousy prostitute, I concluded. Time to swallow my pride and move back home. 

It wasn’t my parents’ fault. Almost always, children have to be taught to be less whiny, not more. Virtuous parents rightly hold up stoicism as a model for their children’s behavior. Most problems you face at any given moment will eventually go away if you simply toughen up. Unbending persistence in the face of pain is the key to ultimate success.

Except when it isn’t. Looking after my respiratory problems – which, after all, could be life-threatening – would have been enough for any parent. When I began having funny aches in my bones, too, my parents said, “It’s just growing pains. Have another banana.” Or, “Walk it off.” Or, “You must’ve slept on it funny.” They said this day in and out for years. And I took their advice like a good girl, stifling whining and backchat, day in and day out for years. Eventually I got sick of bananas, though much addicted to long walks by myself, especially in chilly weather, when the numbing ache of the cold obliterated other sensations.