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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 2, 2010 / 20 Sivan 5770 5770

The Word from Epictetus

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It was definitely time to visit the Greek. No doubt about it. It's been a long primary campaign here in Arkansas, has seemed even longer, and the thing is still going on -- with the run-offs scheduled next Tuesday. Like a binge that's easing into a hangover even before it's was over. The mind wanders, the spirit wanes.

To quote that great psychologist, HAL 9000 in "A Space Odyssey," "Da-a-ve, my mind is going. I can feel it." Good old HAL had to be the most human character in the movie, despite his breakdown, or maybe because of it. It was the astronauts who spoke like robots.

Probably the only reason ol' HAL held together as long as he did was because he never thought of politics. Or at least a Democratic primary in Arkansas. That'd throw anybody into a Hofstadter-Moebius Loop, which is a pseudo-scientific term for a combination of too much history and too little ability to change focus. My identity with HAL, poor fellow, was growing entirely too strong. It was definitely time to visit the Greek. No doubt about it.

That's how I found myself once again in the little cafe out on the highway. The sound of lyre and bouzouki on an old recording played somewhere behind a beaded curtain; the aroma of egg-lemon soup wafted through the little dining room.

The steam rose from the moussaka, like good sense above vain things. What a change from the campaign.

"It's been a while," said the hostess/cashier/waitress/scullery maid as I walked through the door. I couldn't recall her name. Clio? Melpomene? I never could tell History and Tragedy apart. I do remember she'd told me once she had eight sisters. Me, I'd settle for just one muse instead of having to depend on the headlines and caffeine to get me started in the mornings.

I found the old man in his room upstairs, reclining on a couch, serene as ever, unsurprised to see me or anything else. "It's the campaign season," I began. "That's got to be the root of my problem. Everybody's been a little ruffled. You know the best story I heard about this year's election? One candidate told me he was out in the country making his rounds, introducing himself for the umpteenth time that day, when he walked up a gravel drive to find an old boy doing a little barbecuing. The man took the candidate's brochure, glanced at it, and said only: 'Ain't no politician gonna save us now.' And threw it onto the fire. That about sums up the whole country's mood. What's to be done, Mr. Epictetus, what's to be done?"

"No need for the Mister," said the old man. "I was born a slave and never cared much for titles. Just remember that things themselves cannot hurt nor hinder you. Neither can what people say. It is how we view them, our own attitudes and reactions, that give us trouble. As my student, Marcus Aurelius, well learned. If you must trouble yourself with philosophy, read his 'Meditations.' "

The old man fixed his eyes on me and continued: "Only remember this: Happiness and freedom begin and end with a clear understanding of this one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and cannot control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.

"One more thing: If you think you have free rein over things that are naturally beyond your control, or if you attempt to adopt the affairs of others as your own, your pursuits will be thwarted and you will become a frustrated, anxious and fault-finding person."

What? Not find fault? "But I'm a newspaper columnist!"

"No matter," said the old man. "Just as Marcus Aurelius -- who wound up a Roman emperor -- found it possible to lead the good life even in a palace, so it is possible even for a columnist to live well. Even write well. Start with the avgolemono. Finish with a piece of baklava and dark coffee. You will find perspective restored."

I took his advice and ordered some take-out. Even if I hadn't, I wouldn't have left the place empty-handed.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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