Of course, Odysseus isn’t unique. He is us. He’s the human condition in a nutshell. As Blaise Pascal put it, “all of humanity’s problems stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room.” Because we cannot be happy, because we can’t just be, we waste years of our life.

~ Ryan Holiday from,

Holiday puts forward an interesting theory, (and, in my opinion a correct one,) that Odysseus is a tragic figure. Odysseus is doomed by his inability to see his own fatal flaw.

Given that I can be tenacious when tenacity seems needed… Enduring when endurance seems needed… Focused… I’ve been wondering: Can I be still? Quiescent? Tranquil, even, when those would be appropriate?


First, be okay with yourself

All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

Blaise Pascal from,ées

There are many advantages to having some time alone, (while doing nothing,) each day. Not least of which is some inoculation against the disease of needing to be constantly distracted and entertained.

If you immediately fall asleep when sitting alone, excellent! Your body was trying to tell you it needed sleep, and you weren’t listening. Come back when you’ve finished your cat-nap.

…back? Refreshed?

If meditation seems inconceivable… If the idea of being alone, doing nothing, makes your skin crawl… then start with doing things alone, and work up from there.

You, like many people, might get stuck on the idea that being alone is like having some sort of disease—even if you’re the kind of person that prefers being alone. You might skip movies in the theater if you have to attend in solitude. Or maybe you criticize yourself for eating lunch at your desks instead of with coworkers or friends. Perhaps you spend too much of our time out with others because you just don’t know what to do when you’re by yourself. With a little work, however, you can make your alone time much more productive.

~ Adam Dachis from,



One’s legacy

Therefore when we build let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such Work as our descendants will thank us for and let us think as we lay Stone on Stone that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them and that men will say as they look upon the labor and the wrought substance of them, ‘See this our fathers did for us.’

~ John Ruskin


That’s sure has a nice ring to it. We need more people with a rock-solid work ethic, who are self-starters, able to be detail oriented, capable of anticipating problems and acting in advance, and who can think things through. These are things worth striving for.

All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.

~ Blaise Pascal


The time-sink of video games, the distraction of mindless television, the constant interaction with others (twitter, text messages, etc) without real communication, the seeking of incessant stimulation without actually feeling anything, the inundation with information with no chance for finding knowledge; These things we can do without.