January 3rd 2022 (Stoic Boot Camp challenge version)

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Taking a boot to 2022

So to start, I signed up for Ryan Holiday’s Stoic Boot camp. So the first few weeks will be a report from the front lines of this task. Mixed with various other thoughts and distractions. Because it wouldn’t be a focused philosophical discussion without aimless distractions.

Waterboarding would be an interesting way to start any Stoic challenge.

Before day one a cold shower.

So Saturday brought us a what to expect email (And an admonition to have a journal damn it) but Sunday it turned out was a bit of a false start “today is a warm up challenge. We begin tomorrow with Day 1!“. It had one task “Your warm up challenge today is to take a cold plunge. That’s right—we’re warming up with cold water.” We are supposed to find a body of water nearby to plunge in if available or to take a cold shower for 21 seconds (One second for each day of the challenge.) So I got in the car and went for a swim.

This is an actual photo of the beach I went to.

Now I live in Florida and it was 81 degrees outside and the Gulf water was certainly not chilly. Actually, quite refreshing. So as much as I enjoyed my “polar bear plunge” I realised I was sticking to the letter of the challenge, but hardly the spirit. So I took a cold shower. For about five minutes rather than the prescribed 21 seconds. Honestly, I found it quite refreshing as well. (Heck, I took another cold shower today). As Hank Green points out in the SciShow video below, there is a major difference between taking cold showers in Florida and taking them in Montana.

So I visited the discord for the New Year New You challenge and good Lord. Apparently, my Irish-Scottish blood is well adapted to such torture. I have never heard so much drama over a 21 second cold shower. Are you guys sure Stoicism is right for you? Instead of pulling the endless quotes of hardship caused by the prospect of being uncomfortable for 21 seconds, let me let the talented WeezyWaiter dramatically reenact the discord.

So the pre-challenge is in the bag and I am worried this will be more ego stroking summer camp rather than boot camp. Alas, day one put my fears to a bit of rest.

I have all this heroin and I am going to Mexico is a plan technically.

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” 

Day One’s challenge is to pick a word, a mantra to define your goal for 2022. Fuck. I don’t actually have a goal for 2022. As the quote from Seneca above notes, how can I pick a word if I don’t have a goal? It was very early in the AM so reached out to Brooklyn. She was more than helpful.

She suggested Discovery for 2022, Ambition for 2023 and World Domination for 2024. She also quoted Confucius “Man with hand in pocket, feels cocky all day long”

We went back and forth a bit. I suggested I was very unsatisfied with my career. I also realized that last year I had not set any goal at all till after my wife died in February. My mantra was survival and as for goals, I actually succeeded in those I set. (For the most part. We all stumble a bit. Perfection is not reality.)

Is there a greater demonstration of the concept of action than the battle of floor buffers in Space Mutiny?


My goals will come to me (Right? Right?) but I have my mantra. Action. Perhaps it is because I am writing a review of Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck and the idea that action leads to motivation is easily the best idea he has in that orange tome. Still, last year was survival and this year I am ready to tack against the wind and sail the ship. Not exactly Stoic, I confess. That is why I have another 20 days of bootcamp ahead of me. I have a lot more to say which I will share tomorrow. In the meantime, let me leave you with some Ryan Holiday.

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Great content! Keep up the good work!