We’ve spoken of the great Admiral James Stockdale here many times. We told you how when he parachuted into that terrible prison camp, he knew he would be tortured and possibly killed, yet all that was on his mind in that moment were the teachings of Epictetus. We told you about how he made himself of service and a leader to others, even as he was being tortured and trapped in leg irons.
We have spoken of his courage, his wisdom, his self-discipline, and his sense of justice. But nothing better encapsulates the man and his heroism than this one quote, which applies today to our own adversity just as it did to the horrible ordeal that he went through:
I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.
We must never lose that faith. Does that mean we ignore the brutal reality of the current moment? Does it mean we pretend that all is well, even as blows rain down upon us? No. Of course not. We must be realistic. We must be honest.
Yet we should be ever confident of our ability to respond to the situation we have found ourselves in. We decide where this is going to go. We decide what we’re going to get out of this. We will prevail in the end and turn this into a defining event in our lives.
We will make it something we would not trade.
P.S. This was originally sent on July 23, 2020. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism.