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Gabriel Alayon (5th year) Reflects on what he has learned during 'Lockdown'

What I Have Learned During Lockdown

This worldwide pandemic has taught us many valuable lessons, whether it's about our personal hygiene or the importance of the little things. We have all shown our integrity and inner strength through this arduous journey. Now, I could go on about the importance of friends and the importance of exercise during our compulsory stay at home period but, I have learned something extremely valuable during this pandemic.

The lockdown first occurred in the early weeks of March 2020. I was a TY student then and I had many goals to achieve during that year. One year later I am a fifth year student currently studying for the Leaving Certificate Exams. During my time in lockdown, I have made use of it rather than just laying around the house and being lazy, I made use of the free time. I stumbled upon a philosophical book which led me on to pursue the topic of philosophy. I gained a huge amount of knowledge and passion for these different concepts of living. One particular concept intrigued me and that is called ‘Stoicism’. What is ‘Stoicism’? Well, stoicism recognizes that virtue is the only good. Stoicism acknowledges that everything such as money for example, are not exactly good or bad in themselves but can be used for good and bad things. It is the endurance of pain and hardship without the display of feelings without complaint. In simple terms, stoicism is like having good morals, knowing the difference between good and bad.

But how is this relevant to you or to me? Stoicism allows us to develop our skills of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions. Destructive emotions being, sadness, anger, envy and so on. It is believed to grant true happiness. As you can see, stoicism occurs in our everyday lives; we just never took notice of it. This concept assisted me to get through these difficult times and it still continues to live within me. It is forever integrated in my train of thought and state of mind. Let me explain how stoicism can be used using a scenario: Say for example a plan does not go your way, this will clearly upset you and might even anger you. Stoicism helps us control and overpower our negative emotions by accepting what has happened. Anything is possible and everything is inevitable. Move on and adapt to the outcome.

I came across a story about an ancient historian and philosopher from Ancient Greece who lost his son during a barbarous battle in a horrific war. Xenophon was told about the death of his child and all he said was, “I knew my son was a mortal”. This quote was of course controversial but the true meaning is to not fight against nature and let it consume you. Focus on what you can control and let it be your virtue.

We cannot control the route of the virus. We have no idea what is going on or what is going to happen. Of course we are all hoping and praying for it all to be over and it is a truly difficult time for us all. Focus on what you can control and let it be your virtue. Extinguish the destructive emotions and replace them with positive emotions. Stay at home and stay safe, not only for yourself but for those around you. Learn not to act on emotions such as selfishness for what good would that bring?

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within your control. And some things are not.”

By Gabriel Alayon

Fifth Year Student

De La Salle College Churchtown


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