A Ronin’s Journey: Chapter 9


In spite of the stoic techniques, I had to admit a part of me wanted to keep the negative emotions. I wanted them as a reminder and as a penance. 

The trichotomy of control technique still proved incredibly useful in dealing with work, business, and court. It deals with what I CAN control, CAN SOMEWHAT control, and CAN’T control. Timely, since my court date fell on the Ides of March. 

From the deal the two attorneys hashed out, I knew what the next year would bring. The central part of the case was concluded for now. The paranoia from a few months back didn’t return to the same level as the date approached. It did make itself known as a bit of anxiety. The Stoic principles proved to be the most successful way I’d found at the time in dealing with it all. 

I still worried, and feeling the pull to control remained. It’s hard to swallow that it’s not all under my control. It did help me to refocus on what I could manage. 

The benefits of that is a deepening appreciation of life as my stress levels fell. One week of insights are usually multiple pages. Now, one was a scant page of mostly unrelated thoughts. 

I’ve enjoyed the tranquility brought on by appreciating the little things in everything. The cold jolting me awake as I stepped outside with the first cup of coffee. Moving at a more measured pace, rather than hurrying to knock down task after task. It isn’t a complete turnaround, but I’m enjoying the process. 

I added Rory Miller’s book ConCom to my library. That book is a gold mine. I didn’t make it very far into it, and I already had bought a copy for my “adopted” sister, Nay, for her use. 

The more in-depth look at the Triune Brain Model for human behavior helped a lot to click into place. While I read, I wondered if applied Stoicism could tame the socioemotional limbic system enough to let the rational neocortex have more of a say. 

Think of a monkey screeching in your ear. Can you think? Think of calming it down enough where you can consider. That’s what triggered emotions due to our rationality. 

The book has done an excellent job of giving me something to think about. It covers how we can be manipulated and where the weak links lie. Knowing your limits and distinguishing your strengths is a needed thing. Add the ability to see and mitigate your reflexive, emotional reactions to stay in control, and it’s almost like having superpowers. 

The first gun show I worked with Casey was an excellent example of it. We had an inventory snafu. The shirts we needed to sell at the show were in a warehouse 30 miles away. The severe weather had slowed shipping to where they hadn’t arrived in time.

To salvage what I could, I pulled out my Wicked Jester shirts from the closet and used them as displays. Between the interest shown in the shirts and my sister dropping by with my nephew, my mood was helped. 

Our Facebook page admin posted the picture of us working the show. It’s the internet, so there is always that ONE person who comments. Limbic system triggered. Stoicism to the rescue to quiet it. 

The guy didn’t know the context. He made an ill-informed judgment. Why am I taking it personally? I don’t know him. Monkey soothed. 

Later, I saw a comparison of two amygdalas reacting. The amygdala is the lizard part of the Triune Brain Model and what deals with survival. My wife and I were driving home from work close to midnight one night, and right as we were approaching the I-440 overpass, there was an explosion.

The driver’s side front tire exploded. The force of the air’s rapid release sent shrapnel across the interstate as the plastic fender shredded. 

She started screaming at the gunshot-like sound. For me, the amygdala hijacked me as I emotionlessly moved into autopilot and maneuvered the car to the road’s edge. While that was happening, my neocortex (the human brain) was taking inventory. I noted her screams and considered what to do to fix it all. 

Coming to a stop on the shoulder, I put it in park and reached out towards her. “Flashback?”


She was sent back to that horrifying moment months earlier. The mind is amazingly complex. It allows you to understand the why, what, and how of its behavior so you can adapt. 

ConCom came in handy over the course of the month. Forewarning me of human reactions so I could be prepared and act in a controlled manner, or at least keep the mental wheels on the road. Some things I can put a finger on. Some things I can’t, though. 

We were waiting for the second service to end at church, and Casey was enjoying looking through pictures of our godson. Curious, I looked over her shoulder to see what was making her smile. 

I had to walk away. 

The sight of his picture hurts me most of the time. Sometimes it’s okay, other times it triggers bad memories. Random memories will pop up, sending chills through me. I haven’t pinned down that last one yet. 

I did pin down what Rory calls “scripts” that are active in my day-to-day life. I can predict with pretty good accuracy what’s going to happen. With less certainty, I can predict my involvement in interpersonal relationships. 

One example is my looking for a reason to be angry and how to stop it. Other areas are: what’s the root of the problem, who is guilty (both in this case), and how to deal with that. 

During the week, we had a lot of discussions as tensions rose again in the extended family. The book was designed for conflict resolution, and that’s what I was using it for. I wanted the pressures to go away. 

I revisited, for the fourth time, the questions from Unchained. A while back, I took an in-depth look inside me and turned it into a series of blog posts. The working title was “The Forging Ronin” series. The revisit revealed a startling change of focus from inward to outward. 

First, I checked the Cone of Motivation from Shrapnel. Nothing had changed there; it was still goal setting and learning and sharing. The Soul Diamond from TWIWC II, the tool to find the essence of who you are, took a 180-degree turn. Before, it said I was pragmatic, with branches going into egalitarian and survival of the fittest. 

After the last 8 months, cause and effect weren’t cutting it. I couldn’t sit and think lofty thoughts any longer. Now, I was more concerned for others, not wanting to see anyone hurt or in trouble. 

Then I went through the Self-Introduction part of Unchained to see where I was compared to before. For one, I was more about others now, working towards doing things only my way or not at all and just helping. I wanted strength and tranquility from my past and minimizing my reactions to my pet peeves. I had beaten almost every problem area but one—my anger. My only passion at the moment was my wife. 

The previous motto I had lived by now made me want to put my head through a wall in hindsight. Sic Vis Pacem, Para Bellum.

How naïve. 

Now it was more about not leaving anyone behind.

How I wanted to be remembered changed too. Before, it was to be described as introverted, responsible, independent, proactive, and insatiable. Now, I just wanted to be recognized as loyal, helpful, protective, watchful, and as a counselor. 

My triggers changed as well. Previously, it was rebelling against someone ordering me to do something. No thought, just no. Now, it was hurting my wife, and I wouldn’t stand for it in any shape or form. 

Past shames had metamorphosed from a childhood lie to my godson’s death. I saw life as a struggle before. Now, it was all too brief. I merely wished to be recognized for what I did for others rather than be attacked. 

I hadn’t thought of love or happiness as being things I deserved. With this latest run-through, that had changed; now because I gave love, I should receive it. This as compared to a very cold “no one is entitled to love.” It’s a gift. 

Reviewing the difference in answers from the Unchained questions, I found my life’s path had changed. I had finally woken and was working towards being a better person. Very much a work in progress with some rough edges that needed ironing out. I knew what I had to work with, and from what I was learning in Rory’s book, I should have enough tools and explanations to help me in this new direction at a fundamental level.


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