What if you lose everything?

You get to start over. Consider these stories.

edison1. Thomas Edison. On Dec. 10, 1914, a massive explosion erupted in West Orange, New Jersey. Ten buildings in legendary inventor Thomas Edison’s plant were engulfed in flames. Edison calmly walked over to his son Charles as he watched the fire destroy his dad’s work. In a childlike voice, Edison told his 24-year-old son, “Go get your mother and all her friends. They’ll never see a fire like this again.” When Charles objected, Edison said, “It’s all right. We’ve just got rid of a lot of rubbish.” After surveying the damage, Edison determined that he’d lost $919,788 (about $23 million in today’s dollars). Later, Edison was quoted as saying, “Although I am over 67 years old, I’ll start all over again tomorrow.”

galen2. Galen. The great Galen, a prominent Greek physician in the Roman Empire, at one point suffered the loss of all his work and books. In a clear example of what we can call a virtuous Stoic response, he wrote that “the fact that, after the loss of the totality of my pharmaceutical remedies, the totality of my books, as well as these recipes of reputable remedies, as well as the various editions I wrote on them, in addition to so many other works, each one of which exhibits that love of work that was mine my entire life; the fact that I felt no pain shows first the nobility of my behavior and my greatness of soul.”

zeno3. Zeno. Zeno was the founder of Stoicism. On a voyage between Phoenicia and Peiraeus, his ship sank along with its cargo. Zeno ended up in Athens, and while visiting a bookstore he was introduced to the philosophy of Socrates and, later, an Athenian philosopher named Crates. These influences drastically changed the course of his life, leading him to develop the thinking and principles that we now know as Stoicism. According to the ancient biographer Diogenes Laertius, Zeno joked, “Now that I’ve suffered shipwreck, I’m on a good journey,” or, according to another account, “You’ve done well, Fortune, driving me thus to philosophy.”

~ Pelion

 

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