The Parable of the Red Jeep

And so it came to pass, that my husband desired a car that would be inexpensive, yet sporty—useful, but fun. He made his way to the Jeep dealership calm of heart because he was not certain that he really desired a jeep—it was not comfortable, had the reputation for tipping over, and  would be another car to dwell in the driveway. Moderate of mind, he entered the dealership and soon fell into discussions with the salesman on how much every extra feature would cost. He found unacceptable the prices and voiced that view consistently and without fear because the deal held no sway over him.  The salesman observed and stated that it appeared that my husband didn’t really want the car. And when my husband returned to our dwelling, he spoke unto me, “What a great feeling it was to not really want the car—to not care that much one way or the other.”  Verily, though you enter the dealership, let not the desire for the earthly goods overwhelm you—have your dreams but remain their master.

The factual conclusion of this tale might or might not be that he closed the deal on terms wholly satisfactory to himself. Actually, the former did occur, but this is not a guide to skilful negotiating, but rather an illustration of a Stoic ideal.

Stoicism is frequently impugned by the uninitiated as advocating an unhealthy frame of mind that vitiates the very fiber of life—the ups and downs, the thrills and pains of existence.  Bah! It feels good not to be on that rollercoaster, to be in control.  Oh! that all of life could be approached like the purchase of that red jeep. Here ends the Stoic lesson of the day. Amen.

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