In his Discourses, noted Roman Stoic Epictetus proclaims that, to live a life free from anxiety, that each of us must become like a “spiritual athlete.” To that end, NotGraphs presents this exercise, with a view towards helping to tighten and tone the spirits of the readership.
In his season debut this past Wednesday, Cleveland right-hander Corey Kluber — in celebration of whom an eponymous Society exists, not for nothing — was decidedly ineffective, producing the highest single-game FIP among his 40-plus major-league appearances. Said performance created a pall of melancholy over those who derive some pleasure in Kluber and his success.
One might be compelled to ask, with regard to Kluber’s poor start, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Such a query assumes two conditions, however, neither of which are conducive to freedom from anxiety — namely, that (a) there either exists or, at least, ought to exist something akin to a moral justice in the universe, and also that (b) exposure to good fortune exclusively is necessarily of the greatest benefit to those who are regarded as morally virtuous.
Indeed, one’s pursuit of equanimity is most immediately aided by the conviction that, as Hamlet announces in the tragedy that bears his name, that “[T]here is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” It is of greatest benefit to the spiritual athlete to construct a mythology or narrative that is flexible enough to allow for such circumstances as might otherwise be regarded as objectively bad — but, really, are only bad insofar as thinking has made them that way.
During Kluber’s next start, attempt to extract useful lessons not only from his successes, but also his failures.
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