Bad Stoicism – Reading Marcus Aurelius during a war (and a job hunt)

I think there might be something seriously wrong with me.

Sure, I’ve said that before. And I have meant it to too. But there are some moments where I feel it much more strongly than others.

I have now been engaged in a job hunt for a few months now. I am technically employed, but the job needs to come to an end, and thus the job hunt is getting my full attention.

It’s a hell I don’t want to describe (but I will in a future blog post). But one aspect of it that I will comment on is just how fucking demoralizing it is. You send an application out and then wait to hear something back, then you do an interview and wait to hear something back. If you are lucky, maybe a second. Maybe a third. But it is those inbetween times that really end up getting to me. It’s the waiting, the not knowing, the sitting on your hands, and the inability to do something. That kills me. Because the job hunt seems so massively important to me, and consequential in a way that makes me want to do so much damn more than what I can. It doesn’t help that the perfectionist in me pains over CV’s and cover letters till the jobs expire, and that the same guy that claims to have great (attention to detail) always finds a mistake somewhere only after applying to the damn job.

Sigh. It fucking eats at my soul.

And while all this is going on Russia decides to invade Ukraine. Me and about one friend saw this coming, and no one else I told about it believed me. All of those skeptics suddenly went batshit paranoid over what was going on.  My brother (who didn’t believe me when I said Putin would invade, #fuckyouIwasright) messaged me wanting to say goodbye in case he didn’t get a chance to later, something that a friend told me she did with her parents. My mom called me worried on the daily. Putin is threatening nukes.

There was, after some fifty years of silence, a renewed fear of our old friend nuclear extinction. Was I worried?

Nah, not really. Not with my buddy Marcus Aurelius at my side. While all this was going I had been reading (and hating!) the Meditations. As Marcus would point out, there’s nothing I can do about it. Fuck am I meant to do, move to Italian south and grow tomatoes and forage for mushrooms? Sure, I don’t want to get nuked, but really what the fuck am I meant to do, send Putin a strongly worded letter? Sign a Petition on change.org? Move to Argentina (I’m assuming New Zealand won’t have me… it’s my first choice)?

No one wakes up wanting to get nuked, but I am in a respect strategically located. I live in a European city with US air force base that is strategically positioned to assist NATO. I’ve heard it said that a lot of people are checking out that website that overlays nuclear blast radii on to google maps. Yea, my house is in the hot part of the blast zone. If I get nuked, I’ll be dead before I notice being dead, which was pretty much how I always wanted to go. I won’t ever know that I got nuked. You will.

So while I sit here, not waiting for the nukes to land on my head, I stare at my email inbox and ruminate on yesterday’s job interview, which is equally out of my control. One of these things is not like the other, but all things considered I still don’t think I have my priorities in line. It feels like I am saying that I prefer to be dead than jobless. That might be the case – one is certainly easier than the other. And I think I would be judged more for one than the other.

I don’t think I am doing this stoicism shit right.

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