When I think about your soon to be absence in my life, I wonder: Will life ever be so sweet again? I shall cherish the memory of your whispered promises of comfort and pleasure. Who knew you would be such a loyal companion, always waiting for me to passively entertain your presence. Your enchantments linger and I so frequently look for you, able to find your presence wherever I go, you call out to me, and I wait for your permission to be self-indulgent. You are effective, consistent, and offer yourself freely to me without constraints. You bring excitement, and allure, you help me through the darkest of times and I can always count on you to deliver some new form of yourself for me to experiment. You are an adventure with unending and unexplored jungles of exotic varieties.
For the next 6 weeks we will part ways, in part, because not mentioned in your chocolate glazed promises are the consequences of your presence in my life: the headaches, mood swings, the sugar highs and of course the resulting lows, the weight gain and the frequent need to find ways to incorporate you into my life. You are a little controlling, a little too demanding, and at times a bit too intrusive in my life. It’s time to rethink this relationship, to disentangle this web of deceit, and to make new friends.
Since every year the average American consumes at least 50 pounds of sugar a year, I doubt you will miss me, but for now, I will miss you and maybe one day I’ll be free of my dependency on you. You are not god, but a chemical, but I often treat you as the former while dismissing the latter.
For we Academicians are not men [or women] whose minds wander in uncertainty and never know what principles to adopt. For what sort of mental habit, or rather what sort of life would that be which should dispense with all rules for reasoning or even for living? Not so with us; but, as other schools maintain that some things are certain, others uncertain, we, differing with them, say that some things are probable, others improbable.
What, then, is to hinder me from accepting what seems to me to be probable, while rejecting what seems improbable, and from shunning the presumption of dogmatism, while keeping clear of that recklessness of assertion which is as far as possible removed from true wisdom?
– Cicero, On Duties. Book II, Section 8. *brackets added
Reflecting on our politically charged atmosphere, I found this quote to be comforting. I realize that may seem like an odd thing to say since the quote is rather philosophical in nature. However, if one replaces the term “Academicians” with student, manager, sales associate, or whatever one prefers to use, the potential for identifying with Cicero grows, particularly when the desire is to share what one is thinking, learning, and discovering with others. In my experience, the exhausting nature of our present political environment is that the dogmatic assertion comes in the form of heat. A fire fueling tyrannous outrage, burning logic and reason, destroying their ability to sift through and filter out the dogmatic assertions which are frequently declared without any thought to their etymology or philosophical underpinnings. For me, this quote is a reminder to think and ask myself: How have I arrived to the things I believe? Can I provide evidence for what I believe? Do I also merely contribute to the problem of merely asserting without providing a reasonable argument for the beliefs and values I hold? What does it look like for me to pursue true wisdom?