The Sphere of Choice

I told him to get his heart checked multiple times. He never did. He died a few months later.

He had a high salary but he’s often in debt. I told him to save and to keep a budget. He didn’t. I lent him money, and tried my best to help him financially, but there was nothing I could do except helplessly watch as his cycle of spending and borrowing escalated.

I asked him not to quit his job. With his age, lack of experience, and job-hopping history, I knew finding another job for him would be hard. It’s more than a year now since his last employment.

The doctor told me the surgery wound would be closed in one week. But I could still go surfing that Saturday–3 days before the wound is estimated to close. Friday came and the wound is nowhere near healed and I could still barely walk, let alone surf. I had no choice but to cancel my long-awaited surf trip and find something else to do that week.

Expectations: Surf trip expectations (me last year)


Reality: Picture taken with comedian Gabe Mercado (Ok ka ba tyan??) after an improv class the next Wednesday (First time I was able to go out properly after surgery)

Why I know about control — or the lack of it

AT first, this entry reads like a rant. It’s not that simple though.

All these recollections are from different events in my past.

I have no control over my body. I can’t control people around me. I never did and never tried. These failures are my reminder that despite the best intention and logical explanations, people will act as they see fit. As for the body? It heals on its own time.

“We control our reasoned choice and all acts that depend on that moral will.”


I’ve internalized this stoic lesson long ago because I know that each person has to walk their own path and to make their own mistakes. The only thing I control are my thoughts and actions.

But I won’t pretend that I don’t get affected when things go wrong. Yes, stoicism teaches that the path to happiness lies in giving up all outside your sphere of choice.

Logically speaking, I understand this. Yes, it’s useless to be upset because of things outside my sphere of choice.

It’s easier said than done, however. It’s hard not to get affected when the person suffering is someone precious to you. The cancelled surfing trip, for instance, is easier to accept compared to the knowledge that someone I know still can’t find another job.

So I’m still learning this lesson. The best  I can do for the people that matter to me is to comfort and support them. I can help, but I shouldn’t get attached to the outcome of that assistance. Whether they follow through or not is up to them, not me. I’m not sure how that will affect the part of me that feels concerned when things go wrong, but at least this is a step forward towards detachment.


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