I’m a Stoic. (I’m also fairly stoic, but that’s just a coincidence.)
Stoic philosophy has a long set of beliefs and doctrines, but my second favorite of them all is the principle of “amor fati“, the love of fate. There are several interpretations of “amor fati”, but to me, it means facing and accepting the things that come your way: a long line at the grocery store, an unexpected ruling from the Supreme Court, or finding a quarter on the sidewalk.
Most things in life are beyond our personal control, but we can nearly always control our reactions to these things. And as reactions go, I generally find acceptance more useful than denial or anger or even grief. So, I do my best to acknowledge the current state of things and move forward. It may not be the best life strategy for everyone, but it works for me. It’s gotten me through loads of things that, if I’d had a choice, I would’ve rather not endured—Hurricane Katrina, a few surprise career shifts, and the deaths of family and friends.
It’s also how my partners and I ended up with two puppies.
After Jacques passed away in February, none of us were in a hurry to bring a new dog into the house. We needed time to process everything, and we didn’t want to feel like we were trying to replace him.
But then a couple of things happened.
First, Sebastian started acting weird. Our one remaining pup had never been especially interested in/friendly to other dogs, but after Jacques’ death, he became…well, I wouldn’t call it sad, but maybe different. He was anxious when the three of us left the house. He seemed scared and hesitant all the time. It was unusual and worrying.
Second, two dogs–twins, if a dog can be twins–fell into our lap. They were strays, a few weeks old and ready for adoption. John, Peter, and I had talked about eventually adopting pups from the same litter, and I mean, there they were.
And that was that. The three of us and Sebastian went to an adoption event and met them: Roxie and Velma. The fact that they were clearly named by a theater kid was a great sign (to me, a former theater kid). The fact that Sebastian seemed interested in them seemed even better (to all of us).
Jacques’ death was painful, but it was an opportunity to feel and to feel deeply–something I don’t often get to do, and I’d bet that most folks don’t.
The arrival of Roxie and Cleo (Velma just didn’t stick) was another opportunity: an opportunity to open our home to two animals who needed love and a warm bed.
In both cases, I like to think that we embraced what fate brought us and used it to move forward.