Posted by: Michael Rickicki | 02/10/2021

What’s the alternative?

Sitting in the lobby of NYU Tisch while my four year old undergoes an endoscopy. My wife was crying all morning from worry while I was doing my best to keep a level head and show good cheer for my kids.

My question is this: why does it seem that the culture at large tells us it’s wrong to soldier on, to show strength and project confidence and good cheer? Just because we do these things don’t mean that we cannot also feel fear, anxiety and worry. In fact, what good would such qualities as courage and bravery be if they didn’t arise in the midst of and as counterbalances to dread and fear?

I feel that the facile misunderstanding of a stoic countenance and demeanor has done a lot of damage to those of us concerned with authenticity. I recall, during adolescence, being preoccupied with such things and coming to the conclusion that dissembling was wrong. But, was it?

What is the alternative? If being authentic means falling to pieces, smoking, drinking or otherwise trying to escape the situation maybe authenticity should be our primary concern. Yes, it’s important to know one’s true feelings so that one can act in the most skillful way possible but to allow oneself to be overcome by negative emotions helps no one.

Hopefully I’m getting this all wrong and I’m the one who has misunderstood. However, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve hit upon something. I know that my wife accuses me of being a sociopath because I don’t break down during times of crisis and that there is a general quasi feminist critique of so-called chauvinistic stoicism but I don’t really see the benefit of the alternative. If and when I feel the need to open up to a friend about my feelings I feel no shame in doing so but, from experience, I find that this only amplifies the negative emotions.

Still, I’m open to being completely wrong.


  1. Best wishes to the little one and to whole family. .will do a chanting now…Metta from Sri Lanka…💜💜💜

    • Thank you so much Ayya! It is much appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Shillelagh Studies

A hub for the music, culture, knowledge, and practice of Irish stick-fighting, past and present.