Thursday, March 12, 2009

It can always be worse

I have been reading quite a bit of the Roman Stoics recently and reminding myself that I should not be too happy when Fortune goes my way—and honestly, she often does—nor too unhappy when she turns against me. I tend to overemphasize in my own life the way that Fortune turns against me. So, I have also been thinking about the ways in which lives goes well and go poorly.
I was thinking about these very issues and reading some Seneca this week when a student came to talk to me about some problems in logic. In the process of figuring out just what she was having a problem with, she told me an amusing story about her childhood, involving her parents and one of her siblings. I asked her how her brother remembered the story and she shook her head: "No, they are all gone. They all died in the war."
She was talking about one of a series of civil wars in her homeland. Then, I realized. Even at its lowest, my life has never been bad. There are depths of suffering that I cannot fathom.

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