I was in a weird mental space today, feeling very stressed out and concerned about my life and just all around kind of sad, so when it was time to do the commute home, I opted for one of my favorite podcasts, On the Media. At my last company, I made an effort to only listen to podcasts during my commute, as I felt that I was learning something, as opposed to simply listening to music. This has a two-fold impact. 1) The commute passes faster when you’re listening to an interesting ‘conversation,’ and 2) it’s easy to stay on top of the cultural zeitgeist and understand what’s happening in the world. This is important, as what you do or experience in your own subjective reality has an underlying debt to what is broadly happening around you in your city, country, and on the planet.
Of all of the podcasts I could have chosen, I listened to the one that I needed to hear exactly in that moment. “Cashing in on Ferguson, That Letter to Iran, and Nihilism’s Allure.” While the entire podcast is interesting, it’s the latter part that was important to me. The whole thing builds up through current news and examines what it is, in the end, that’s really troubling us all. Here’s the link to the story:
Toward the end of this piece, Brooke Gladstone began reciting a quote, and as I listened to her, I literally could feel the hairs standing up on my arms. It was the root of everything I worry about, that anyone worries about, the whole mortality and fear of mortality and dread of death or meaninglessness that can overwhelm even the most positive person. This is the quote:
“Accustom yourself to believe that death is nothing to us, for good and evil imply awareness, and death is the privation of all awareness; therefore a right understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not by adding to life an unlimited time, but by taking away the yearning after immortality.”
This is from “Letter to Menoeceus” by Epicurus. You can read the full letter, which I highly recommend, here:
Anyway, I’m sorry for the long-winded letter, but I hope that it finds you well and that you’re having a lovely night. See you in the morning.