Cockroach Epictetus

enb01448m.jpgA cock­roach can lose its head, have its cara­pace crushed and be sub­ject­ed to intense radi­a­tion and not admit defeat. I am uncon­quer­able, invin­ci­ble. In any con­test the los­er is the one who thinks he has lost. Los­ing is only a men­tal­i­ty, it does not exist unless it is believed in, like the clos­et mon­ster. If this seems grandiose and unrea­son­able to you then I think I will say that you do not real­ize being beat­en requires your acknowl­edge­ment and agree­ment to the state of beat­en­ness. If some­one stuck a pin-pulled grenade in my mouth, lobbed off my hands and tied me to an oil drum on a leaky boat in the mid­dle of the Sar­gas­so sea, I would still not admit defeat; like the cock­roach.

I. Of things some are in our pow­er, and oth­ers are not. In our pow­er are opin­ion, move­ment toward a thing, desire, aver­sion (turn­ing from a thing); and in a word, what­ev­er are our own acts: not in our pow­er are the body, prop­er­ty, rep­u­ta­tion, offices (mag­is­te­r­i­al pow­er), and in a word, what­ev­er are not our own acts. And the things in our pow­er are by nature free, not sub­ject to restraint nor hin­drance: but the things not in our pow­er are weak, slav­ish, sub­ject to restraint, in the con­trol of oth­ers. Remem­ber then that if you think the things which are by nature slav­ish to be free, and the things which are in the pow­er of oth­ers to be your own, you will be hin­dered, you will lament, you will be dis­turbed, you will blame both gods and men: but if you think that only which is your own to be your own, and if you think that what is another’s, as it real­ly is, belongs to anoth­er, no man will ever com­pel you, no man will hin­der you, you will nev­er blame any man, you will accuse no man, you will do noth­ing invol­un­tar­i­ly (against your will), no man will harm you, you will have no ene­my, for you will not suf­fer any harm. — Enchirid­ion, Epicte­tus.

3 Replies

  • Damn I was feel­ing all beat down before I read your post. Now, I’m ready to keep kick­ing.

  • Wish I was as brave as you and epicte­tus.
    And on the top­ic of Cock­roach­es. I once dis­cov­ered, after a 12 mile bike ride, a half squished cock­roach in my shoe — it climbed out and ran away.

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