Marie Wood PHIL 103, Dr. Mar Peter-Raoul Assignment # 3

Marie Wood
PHIL 103, Dr. Mar Peter-Raoul
Assignment # 3
My Conversation With Socrates
It was a bitter day. There was a drizzling sleet and the wind whipped through my
jacket with a bite. I saw a building up ahead, its blanched stones stacked two stories
high. I walked towards it, hoping for shelter from the cold. Inside seemed to be lost
somewhere in time. The floors were laid with wide wooden planks. The light in the
room came from the glow cast off a massive fieldstone fireplace. I went to the fire for
warmth, it’s crackling flames heating the chill that had settled into my bones. That’s
when I first saw him. He was an aging man, with wild white hair and a salt and pepper
beard. He stood at a table that was set with pewter plates, and a meal of roasted chicken
and fresh fruit.
“Hello.” I waved with awkwardness, wondering if I had invaded his home.
He gestured to a chair. “Come. Take a seat. The warmth of the fire shall still
reach you. We have much to discuss in little time. Tis why you are here.”
“You were expecting me?” I asked walking towards him. The room was dim in
this corner. Shadows cast against the wall behind him and thick candles burned only
inches from the ends of their wick. I hung my coat on the back of a chair and sat down.
He sat across from me. The chicken smelled wonderful, its savory spice reaching my
nose and making me realize my hunger. He nodded to eat. As I reached for my fork he
used his hands, first ripping the leg from the ribs and biting in. His way looked easier,
but I couldn’t forget my manners. I cut my chicken into pieces and ate slowly. I still
wasn’t sure how I had arrived here but I understood why now. I needed to talk. Life was
weighing down on me and there were days when it was hard to climb out of bed.
Looking across the table I studied this man as we ate in silence. His skin was pale and
leathery. His frame was slight and frail. His mind was immense. I could see it in his
eyes, gray watery eyes that searched into me. He was sizing me up, just as I was him.
We washed our meal down with heavy goblets of red wine. It seemed that no matter how
much I sipped, my goblet stayed full. When our hunger was gone, the plates vanished. I
wasn’t sure how or where they had gone. That’s when I decided I must be dreaming.
Dreams were safe, so I was safe here. I relaxed into that thought, letting the warm
intoxication seep through my blood. The wine was taking effect. It was helping me to
The man smiled sincerely. “I am Socrates and I beg you excuse the use of my
natural tongue. I understand you are struggling and in need of discussion.”
“Yes, I am. Life feels very hard lately.”
He sipped from his heavy goblet. It clanked as he set it down. The light of the
fire danced in his eyes. “And am I correct in assuming that you struggle with the idea of
how ought you to live your life?”
“Shall I explain how ought I to live my life?”
“I believe it would be helpful for me.”
He studied me closely. “One must first live an examined life. That makes it worth
living. So explain your struggle for I see in your eyes the unrest. You have turmoil that
is greatly unjust. Tis showing through expressions of sadness on your face.”
I chewed my lip, trying to decide how to explain my life. “My life’s not that
complicated really. I’m a mother. I’ve two beautiful children. I’ve a good job. Though
in this economy there are no guarantees. And I have a husband who cares for me.”
He watched me carefully as I spoke. “Yet you need to speak with Socrates. It is
not that you are simply a curious person who wanted to meet me. I see that you are a lost
person. A person who has just explained all that you have in your life, except for what is
inside of yourself.”
“I’m not sure I understand.” I ran my finger along the stem of my goblet, trying
to look away from the intense stare that went between us.
“I have been accused of being an evil-doer, who searches into things under the
earth and in heaven. It is said that I make worse appear the better.” He sighed and sat
back. “In your case I shall point out the opposite for I feel that I shall make your better
appear worse.”
“How so?” I struggled to understand him.
“For everything in your life appears beautiful, so gloriously neat. You have two
children, of whom you have lost yourself into. For being a mother takes every ounce of a
woman’s energy. Tis easy to lose yourself. You make mention of a good job. Tis it your
heart’s content to perform this job, or simply a means to help support your family? This
makes a big difference in the appetite of our soul. If you don’t nourish yourself
emotionally, then you shall starve to death emotionally.”
Tears welled in my eyes and I blinked them away. Socrates was right. I had been
so lost in the needs of my children that I hadn’t even felt alive in the last ten years. I
didn’t love my job. It was simply a place to go for eight hours a day in order to make a
living. Though I felt lucky to have my job, it certainly wasn’t fulfilling. Then there was
the constant stress of losing my job. The economy was overwhelmingly bad. People all
over were struggling. They were losing their jobs, their homes, their health insurance.
Though my job didn’t define who I was, I certainly didn’t want it to go away.
He took another sip of his wine. “You make mention of your husband caring for
you. Yet you don’t mention love, not of him for you or you for him. Shall I assume that
you have been with him for a long time? For love can grow tired with time.”
“Twenty years.”
“And in that twenty years you have watched yourself slip away. You are no
longer yourself, but part of him. People think of you as his wife. You have not remained
an individual.”
My nerves were making me fidgety. I popped a grape in my mouth and chewed it
before I explained. “When you build a life in marriage, children, houses, cars, debt, you
get caught up in what you have to do to keep those things. You must work in a job you
don’t like to pay your bills. You must stay with your husband through bad times, in order
to keep those things.”
“Tis a vicious cycle this life. You work for things you don’t love. True wealth
shall not come from things. You will find wealth in a healthy soul. You stay with a
husband when the love is gone.”
Again tears welled in my eyes. “The love is gone. He has been a tough man to
love. I have tried so hard but pleasing him is near impossible. At first I just hurt inside.
Then I grew tired.”
“Tired?” He asked, his eyes searching my face.
“Yes. And slowly with time I stopped feeling anything.”
He ran his fingers through his hair and seemed to think about this for a while.
“Let’s think back to how I ought to live my life. I live the truth. Even when the truth
will have my accusers condemn me to death. For life is not worth living if you don’t live
the truth.” He sighed and went on. “You need to face your truth. You are lost inside
your own life. You are no longer in love with your husband. If it costs you any part of
yourself to be half of a marriage then the price is too high. Then these things you work to
keep mean nothing. Besides you work to keep them at a job that you do not love. You
need to find love again. You must first look inside yourself. What does your soul ask
for? What makes you smile? Examine your life.”
My heart was pounding. “Can you suggest how I do this?”
“Listen to yourself and not outside influences. Then you shall find your truth and
you will fight for it as I did. I had to battle my three accusers at trial, Meletus and Anytus
and Lycon. I spoke my apology, showing them that I chose to live the truth. Without the
truth, life is not worth living.”
“But you didn’t convince them.” I stated. My hand tightened on the goblet for I
knew he hadn’t. I had read “The Apology.”
“Tis true. I was put to death. But I have no regrets. I understood my life. For I
lived my truth. If you live your truth, you shall die with no regrets also.” He reached
across the table and patted the back of my hand. “There are fears greater then dying.
Dying is simply a loss of consciousness. How painful it is to move through every
moment of our consciousness with lies? No wonder you are tired. So much worrying
about life or death. What matters is what is right.”
And then he stood. His frail tired body shook for a moment until he steadied
himself. “You must go home now. The journey will be warm. I believe the comfort of
the sun will help you ponder your dilemma.”
“Thank you.” I offered, feeling that wasn’t competent enough to show my
gratefulness. “I will do as you say and search for my truth.”
And then he was gone, just as mysteriously has he had appeared. I sucked in a
deep breath and got up. The fire was burning out now. I knew that home was beyond
this room. I had to go back. I had to face the truth. I had to find myself again. And
hopefully in the process, this great sadness I struggled with would disappear.