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The Stoics of Goaltending

Updated: Oct 8, 2023

Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher, is a historical figure known for his "Meditations" and his contributions to Stoic philosophy. With the recent surge in popularity of Stoicism, what would Marcus Aurelius say if he knew that his writings and teachings were being summarized and read aloud by AI characters globally on Tic Toc, YouTube and Instagram? The video, Marcus Aurelius : The Man Who Solved the Universe has 4 million views, give or take a few hundred thousand to date.

Marcus Aurelius lost his father at a young age and was orphaned by the time he was three. He was taken in and raised by his grandfather. He co-ruled the Roman Empire with his adoptive brother Lucius Verus from 161 to 169 CE. During their reign, the empire faced challenges, including wars and the Antonine Plague. Marcus Aurelius spent much of his reign on military campaigns, particularly in defending the Roman Empire against external threats. He is known for his leadership during the Marcomannic Wars and the Roman Empire's northern campaigns.

Throughout his life, Marcus Aurelius sought to live in accordance with Stoic principles. He was known for his humility, modesty, and sense of duty. He declined extravagant displays of power and wealth.

His writings offer timeless wisdom on topics such as virtue, self-discipline, and resilience. From a Stoic perspective, a goaltender emphasizes self-control, virtue, rationality, and acceptance of the natural order. Stoicism is helpful when we panic or want to give up, despair and rage at existence.

If you are going to be successful at playing goal you need to abandon hope. Hope is the opium of the emotions. I hope I make the team. I hope I can stop the puck. I hope I win. I hope I play good. Hope must be stamped out for a goaltender to have any sense of inner peace. Stoicism prepares a goaltender for the worst, toughens them up for the worst fate can throw at them.

Another subject of of interest is anger. Anger stems from misplaced hope smashed into unforeseen reality. Goaltenders can readily expect betrayal, infamy, and humiliation. You will spend your life perfecting your skills but you will fail time and time again. A life of playing goal is a life of misery.

The wise goaltender, from a Stoic point of view, should aim to reach a state where nothing can disturb their peace of mind.

"The happiness of life depends on the quality of your thoughts." - Marcus Aurelius

Stoicism focuses on personal ethics. The path to happiness relies on living a life of reason, discipline and self-control. Align yourself with the idea that what will be will be. Stoics value inner peace and equanimity. A Stoic goalie might approach the game with a sense of tranquility, regardless of the pressure and intensity. They would not let external events or emotions disturb their inner calm.

During a game, a Stoic goalie would prioritize rationality and aim to make calm and calculated decisions in the midst of never-ending variables. The Stoic goaltender uses their intelligence and wisdom to anticipate the opponent's moves. Stoics value discipline and endurance. A goalie would exhibit discipline in their training and preparation, constantly striving to improve their skills. They would also demonstrate endurance by staying committed to their role, regardless of the challenges and setbacks they face during a game or season.

Stoicism teaches acceptance of the natural order and recognizing what is within one's control. A goaltender would focus on controlling their own actions, positioning, and reactions, rather than worrying about external factors they cannot control, such as the opponent's shots, the coaches decisions or calls by the referee.

Stoicism encourages courage in the face of adversity. A goalie would embody this virtue by bouncing back from mistakes with resilience, viewing them as opportunities for growth.

The Stoic goaltender contributes to the common good. A Stoic goalie would see their role as a duty to their team and fans, striving to give their best effort and contribute to the success of the team.

Finally, Stoicism encourages detachment from external outcomes. A Stoic goaltender would focus on giving their best effort without being overly attached to whether the team wins or loses, recognizing that some factors are beyond their control. A Stoic perspective would embody virtues such as rationality, courage, resilience, and self-control. They would approach their role with a sense of duty and commitment to the common good, while also practicing acceptance of the natural order and detachment from external outcomes. Stoicism provide a philosophical framework for goalies to excel in their position and maintain a balanced perspective on the challenges of the game.

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