Philosophy v’s Reality

This morning I got up at 5:30am and worked on my writing until 7am.  I got the kids up and got them out of the house by 8am.  I was more than a little bit pleased with myself for being so organised.  The day was ticking along as planned.  But as I got into the car I realised everything was suddenly wrong.  It took a minute to sink in but it was very clear that my car had been ransacked in the night.  Awesome!

My belongings and the change in the dividing well are irrelevant, but the thought that someone had been sat in my drive with ill intentions and may now have mail containing personal details, made me feel sick.  But what do you do when you have tiny eyes looking at you, waiting to be guided on the correct response to the situation?  You hold your shit together.  It’s OK to be disappointed and even annoyed, but hold it together.  An over reaction doesn’t help anyone.

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As I drove, silently seething, towards the school, I had to repeat to myself, “there’s nothing you can do about what you’ve lost.  It’s pointless dwelling on it.  What can you do to make sure they don’t try the front door or a window next time?”

I try every day to embrace some of the concepts of Stoicism.  If I understand it correctly in its basic form, you have to let go of the things you can’t change and try to remain happy in the present moment, whatever happens should be faced with acceptance.  Put simply, there’s no value on dwelling on these things.  If they’re in the past, nothing can change what happened.  If they’re due to happen and inevitable, then plan to mitigate the impact of any outcome but don’t hang onto something that still remains, no matter how inevitable, an imagined future.

Imagining the future is where we all tend to fall down.  Let me explain.  In the past I would have been in a blind panic imagining some evil wrongdoers who are ‘targeting’ me.  They now have my personal details and will steal my identity and burn my credit cards all over town.  Maybe they found a spare key to the house.  Now I’m terrified they will break into my home and murder my family in our sleep.  And so on and so on.  I’m a writer, I have a great imagination.  For most people the imagined future would probably involve less murder and mayhem.

But my new mindset says I can’t change what they’ve done, and whilst I can report it to the police, it’s exceptionally unlikely to yield any return of the items stolen.

  • They were probably just opportunists, because if they were proper criminals they would have realised the brand new shoes in the foot well were worth more than the old sat nav they stole.
  • If they were targeting me they would have burgled my home on one of the many trips I’ve been on in recent months.
  • They may have personal details now, I can’t change that, but I can mitigate it.  I just need to inform any relevant card companies and keep an eye on my credit report.
  • I’m pretty sure I hadn’t left a spare key in the car but any attempt to use one can be thwarted by leaving a key in the door on the internal side at night, you can’t get at the key from the outside – I think I’ve watched enough criminal investigation programmes to be reasonably sure of that.  But, if I was in any real doubt that there had been a key, I can change the locks.

And with that I can let this go.  Can’t I?

Maybe.  The thing I’m still struggling with is not knowing who it was.  I want to be able to look that piece of shit in the eye.  I want to be able to say, ‘I’m skint too and I have kids to feed.  Why is your need more important than mine?’  It’s not going to happen and therefore another imagined future I need to let go of, but hell it would feel good.

Anyway, I didn’t say this butchered Stoicism concept was easy, just that it seemed to help me not waste valuable thinking time on things that aren’t helpful.  My kids went into school smiling.  They gave me a hug and said, “don’t worry mummy, there’s nothing we can do about it now.  At least they didn’t take the car.  Lets just have a good day.”

Yeah kids, lets have a good day.

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