In The Pocket Guide to Action, Kyle Eschenroeder describes a modern but essentially timeless problem. We are over-stimulated, untrusting, feeling a sort of “listless, restless, low-grade anxiety.” Should we do this? Should we do that? Which path is right, which path is better? But what if I don’t succeed?
Today we face what man has always faced—the battle between “over-abstraction” and action—not just any action, or activity, obviously, but right action. As Kyle writes in the book, “right actions aren’t usually grand. They can be small. Brushing your teeth is an action. Brushing your teeth mindfully is right action.” And over-abstraction, well, we know what that is—that’s the thinking, mulling, contradictory, whose-fault-is-this? or what’s-the-perfect-solution trap we often fall into.
This is why you hear Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius say over and over again: It doesn’t matter what they do. It doesn’t matter what they say. It doesn’t matter what you think. It only matters what you do. Right now. Even if it’s just a small step in the right direction.
Give Kyle’s book a read because it is a paean to action. To getting up off our asses and doing. To winning the battle between abstraction and right action. That’s what this philosophy of Stoicism is about at the end of the day. Putting aside the endless debates on internet message boards, turning off the voice in your head and getting to work—on yourself, on your duties, on the world.
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