Surrounded by arete
Arete – The Greek word for excellence in Homeric times. More than just a word, ‘arete‘ was a way of life, an understanding of the oneness of life and a duty to yourself as the vehicle for experiencing life. Surround yourself with it and you will embody it a bit more each day. I don’t remember when exactly I took it upon myself to start decorating my bedroom as a kid. My parents did a great job of hanging up pieces of art I created or carvings my grandpa made. At a certain point, I became the design lead of my own room and proceeded to fill the walls with cool posters or photos from Sports Illustrated. My last year of high school I basically had a shrine devoted to LeBron James. It was at this point that I decided to draw inspiration from my walls by purposely putting up pieces that represented ‘arete‘ to me. My wallgame soared. I was definitely motivated by having role models on the walls I could look at every night before falling asleep and every morning, ready to take the day on just like they would. Each day I strove to be a little bit more like them and in that process, towards my ideal self.
*Side note: I did three of the actions listed in the last post to support racial and overall justice in our country. I read the Madison Police Department’s code of conduct and was pleased to see the importance they place on human life in the code. While this doesn’t prevent violations from occurring, knowing that the underlying values of the department are solid provides reassurance. I also sent emails to a city government senator and a representative urging them to act to end injustice, especially racial injustice, in our country. Finally, I donated $10 to the Black Lives Matters movement. Baby steps forward. It may not seem like much, though I stand by Laozi’s saying that, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” May we all make a little bit of progress each and every day!
I did one thing differently when decking out my dorm room at the beginning of my sophomore year. That year I made a list of three goals and put it right next to my alarm clock, ready for me to see it every morning when I woke up. One of my roommates had told me a story about a guy he knew who wrote down he’d get all A’s on a piece of paper and stuck it on the ceiling right above his bed, with some expletives for encouragement. That guy ended up getting straight A’s that semester. I was inspired by this story and impressed that the guy followed through with his declaration. I believe I have that original sheet of paper somewhere, not completely sure what order the three goals were in, but they were: straight A’s, 90mph, and 6 pack abs. I only achieved the straight A’s that semester, however, it gave me some extra gumption knowing that my environment could be used to bolster my efforts in the pursuit of my goals.
Today, the walls in my room represent my identity. They are an outward expression of my inner state. My quest to live a life of ‘arete‘. Here are the main items I have up in my room right now:
In a couple of days, I move out of the room I’ve been in for the past year, headed back east. I’ll take these items down from the walls as I pack up everything. Even off the walls, their significance remains. That extra boost of motivation, helping me live out my dreams 🙂 Suerte.