Exercises in Tranquility by Will Ringland

Double X is extra failure

Double X is extra failure

I'm just gonna say that yesterday and today was and will not be very Tranquil days for me. I am legitimately upset by the results of the election and spent a portion of last night scared, angry, anxious, and ashamed about what the next weeks to months to years will look like for me, my friends, and marginalized groups in America.

Tranquility is defined thus:


a disposition free from stress or emotion

The primary way I have achieved this state is through regular meditation and reflection on days where my emotions, usually anger or self-0loathing, get the best of me. Today, I am filled with disbelief and loathing and shame at myself and my country. I am ashamed that systemic sexism and racism prevailed and a demagogue was elected. I am ashamed that the nataional dialogue for this election was how horrible Secretary Clinton was because of email. For myself, I am ashamed for exactly 1 reason: I will be fine in Trump's America.

Despite my disability, I am an (otherwise) able-bodied, come from upper-middle class, land owning, college educated, white male working in the tech industry. Everything about me and what I do will continue to receive privilege in Trump's America. In fact, I will probably benefit from Trump's America.

I do not need to benefit.

What I need is for my female friends to receive more pay than I when they are more competent, for my disabled wife to get more healthcare than I when she needs more, for my black friends to receive more protection from a racist police system, for my muslim friends to receive more freedom to practice their religion, for my immigrant friends to receive more security in their new home.

I do not need to benefit. I've benefitted enough. But I can take my privilege and, at a minimum, try to teach those around me what it means to be a white male in this society, how that can allow you to succeed despite (apparently) sexism and racism on a scale not seen since Germany in the 30s.

Keeping a tranquil helps keep my focused and aware of how the world works around me. It helps me when a coworker makes an ableist remark or a friend is casually racist, tranquility helps me respond calmly and maybe make them think about what they'd said.

If I can help teach people, maybe make them a little more aware to their privilege or lack there of, the world can get a little bit better in the next 4 years. A little more inclusive, a little more caring, a little more accepting.

That is a benefit I need. That is a benefit we all need.

#Annoyed by Will Ringland

I don't understand how a dude who wrote so much about little things wrote so little about Moral Perfection outside of his autobiography (1).

I swear if this was just another prank, I will unlock the door and let the headless horseman in to your basemnet lab which made no sense at all and laugh , Franklin (2)...


  1. It's like doing personal projects was just as hard without social media distracting you constantly.
  2. That was a reference to the Sleepy Hollow tv show.
  3. I think I need this shirt.

Tranquility by Will Ringland

Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.

Tranquility is the lost art of mindlessness, if detachment, of letting going of petty things that keep us from being fully engaged in the world around us. I don't expect Franklin was getting so deep on the alternative philosophy, American's we're so familiar with non-oxidental ways of worship, but the basic precept from tranquility has existing in nearly all social, religious, or political creeds for as long as recorded time has existed.

The first definition of the concept comes from, of course, the Greeks. Epicurus defined the state of "tranquility" - which he envisioned as the perfect state humans could acquire - as the state of tranquility from…

"…eschewing faith in an afterlife, not fearing the gods because they are distant and unconcerned with us, avoiding politics and vexatious people, surrounding oneself with trustworthy and affectionate friends and being an affectionate, virtuous person, worthy of trust." (1)

I expect the "avoiding politics and vexatious people" portion of the statement was more up Franklin's alley. In most of his published works, the word "tranquility" was used in conjunction with some statement against war or political uprising. In his political career, Franklin was a mediator intending to reach compromise between constantly arguing factions - it's the primary reason he was sent to Britain before the revolutionary war.

The benefit of political calm is obvious - when there is stability between factions, there is prosperity and eace. It's easier for a society to prosper. For Franklin, this would mean greater opportunity for economic and scientific growth. Personal calm didn't seem to be that great a deal for him in his communications at least. At best, re discuss retirement as a way to remove himself from public affairs in letters to friends abroad, "I too am taking the proper Measures for obtaining Leisure to enjoy Life and my Friends more than heretofore…" (2) Though later in a letter to the same friend, "but I find the more I seek for leisure and retirement from business, the more I am engaged in it." (3)

I imagine it is, in part, his own desire to stay popular - he enjoyed fame, especially abroad - but it doesn't lend one to inner peace. Still, the idea hat one should not be annoyed at accidents even if they are setbacks is good advice and likely of the sort Franklin would follow. In business, especially in a printing press, rolling with the machinery and employees is a good idea. no sense in getting angry printing dozens of pages with a single letter backwards.

Fix it and get back to work.

For myself this week, maintaining calm, especially at work, over accidents or slights, is a good goal. People often have genuinely good intentions, and as in previous discussions (4) I prefer to assure people are predisposed to acting in a genuine fashion, and they just make mistakes.


    1. Be not disturbed by trifles.

Similarly, it's impossible to forever control anger as emotions run powerful in most people. If I find myself angry, step back from it to get perspective.

    2. Step away from upset when realized. (Enhance your calm, John Spartan!)

And as ever with a word of encouragement, remember Poor Richard:

Anger is never without a Reason, but seldom with a good One.