I nearly skipped 2.1 of Epectitus’ Discources since it’s obvious to me that you can be confident about some action while still being cautious with it. But then I realized this section goes much deeper:
Be confident with what you cannot control… and cautious with what you can.
When faced with death our response may be intense fear, panic, and act recklessy or foolish, cowardly, or treacherously in an attempt to avoid it. This is the context of cautiously, like that cop who shot a yoga teacher, who freaked out like a scaredy cat and shot at a woman that came to him for help.
Death dances with everyone, and most people don’t get the luxury to decide when and how. Not to fault that cop too much, it is easy for people to say how they’d react, in the comfort of their office chair. But this a presents an example of what Epectitus is saying.
You have the power to choose how to act, when deciding how to act, and to ensure that your fear doesn’t irrationally affect you, and to know *when* it could affect you. Mohamed Noor did have the power to decide what kind of career to choose, training, meditate, know himself, and choose when to quit (if he doesn’t perform as he requires). But instead, his willful ignorance of his anxiety, fear, and stress response are what disgracefully killed Justine Damond.
He was confident in all those thing in his control. His academy training, ability to protect others, going out on patrol, skillfully protecting good people, threat assessments, and knowledge about himself.
He was cautious about being ambushed, about being killed on the line of duty due to a surprise attack… The very thing a cop may be in the least control of.
“To die is not dreadful, but to die with dishonor.“
If he had died that night from a surprise, uncontrollable ambush, he would have died honorably, his life celebrated. But now he spends his life imprisoned, enslaved by guilt and regret. Hopefully he does learn about himself now, and somehow make atonement for his grave error.
Enough of this outrageous example, I’ll be thinking about this idea more and revisit it later…