This day… Caroline turns to the philosophers

What is going on at the moment, and how do we deal with all the changes? In this blog, someone from the Flow team shares how she is dealing with the current situation: both on a practical level and in her head. This time: Caroline (managing editor, Specials) finds solace in philosophers’ quotes.

It was just a few weeks ago that I read a text from my friend Angie in Beijing, China, to some of my colleagues at the Flow editorial office. ‘The virus is really a big thing right now. We feel like we are living in a disaster movie.’ I have known Angie since my previous career as a travel representative, and I wrote a feature about her once for Flow.

Gee, my colleagues and I then thought, that must be really hard for her – not realizing that the virus could also come to the Netherlands. And here we now are… For the past few days I am noticing the benefits of phrases from philosophers, such as the Stoic philosopher Seneca , who we featured in our ‘The Philosopher’ series in Flow: ‘The basic premise of Stoicism is to try not to worry too much about things you have no control over. Instead, focus on your inner goals rather than the results; in other words, concentrate on your attitude and how you deal with events, things you do have control over.’

So, of course, I follow the advice of RIVM (the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment), but I also try to look at the positive side of this whole situation. My children sending a card to their grandparents, of their own accord; the walks in the park with my daughter (“I’d be having a free period right now”); ​​my husband taking the time to prepare a lovely meal for us all; the texts with my friend who is a GP and whom I admire so much right now.

At the same time, I try to absorb other quotes by Seneca. Such as: ‘Prepare for everything. If you take coincidence and fate into account and don’t believe that you are immune to bad luck and misery, you will never be disappointed.’ I find this one a little more difficult to embrace, because I don’t want to frighten myself unnecessarily. Perhaps Seneca means: You prefer to imagine yourself invulnerable, which is also necessary to survive. But sometimes you also have to have the courage to face reality. Establish yourself in your destiny when it meets you, and until then: keep your eyes open for all the beautiful things around you. And fortunately, there are still so many. Like the text message I happened to receive from Angie earlier today: ‘Life in Beijing is becoming quite normal again.’

Text Caroline Buijs  Translation Julia Gorodecky