Memos to Myself:Notes for Future Ben

Memos to Myself:

Notes for Future Ben

Musings, Observations, Lessons, and Insights to Look Back On.

Not quite a journal, more than a blog...A canvas for connecting dots and thoughts.

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The Perfect Place for Blame

September 14, 20232 min read

Dear Reader:

Who do I blame when things don't go my way? How do I cope with the idea that I don't yet have everything I desire? Am I at fault? Is anyone?

Epictetus taught: "It is the action of an uneducated man to blame others for his own misfortune; but a man who enters education of this kind will blame himself; and a man perfected will blame neither himself nor others."

If a man perfected is ready and willing to blame no one, where then do we place blame?


In antiquity, nature served as a near-universal term. Nature is what happens "naturally," encapsulating the immutable laws of cause and effect, even believed by many to be the will of the gods.

Consider the tree, for instance. When a branch falls on your house, it might be instinctual to erupt in frustration, directing it toward the tree — an entity following its destined path influenced by various factors such as wind, rain, and time. With patience, we can see that the tree is merely abiding by its nature: to live, and eventually to die, a process that extends to every branch.

Picture the times traffic grinds nearly to a halt (seemingly daily), creating irritation where other drivers become perceived adversaries. But in a more centered state, you'd realize roads with multiple lanes were not designed solely for speed but to accommodate volume, recognizing the natural tendency for traffic to congest.

And what about the dreams and desires that sometimes feel elusive, igniting a whirlpool of blame either towards others or myself? After all, every guru tells us to take responsibility and blame ourselves for everything that happens in life. Here I feel it's critical to just take a beat and remind myself that perhaps it isn't in my nature to have the object of my eye - at this particular moment.

And as I release that breath slowly, I find equanimity.

Embracing Epictetus’ teaching guides us to an understanding where, automatically and effortlessly, we relinquish the blame we harbor against ourselves and others, shifting our gaze to the harmonious flow of events in the natural world. Consider it a gentle nudge towards acceptance and understanding, rooted in the underlying currents that govern the cosmos, shaping every event, every misfortune.

So, dear reader, in those moments where blame seems to be the only companion, remember this insight.

Visualize progressing, bit by bit, to a tranquil state of existence where blame finds no home. It's a journey guided by the gentle hand of understanding that everything, without exception, is following its own natural path.

And that's okay.

To the pursuit of perfection and a life without blame,

Deo Volente.

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Ben McGary

Investor | Entrepreneur | Integrator | Writer

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