I was struck by the conversation between Ethan and Rob about the boat approaching EoE. Rob said “I hope it’s something good,” but Ethan countered that it was going to be something bad, because it was “never” good on EoE. This reminded me of something I read recently about James Stockdale, a prisoner of war in Vietnam who was also a Stoic philosopher. Stockdale was asked about the personalities who survived the POW camp. He said the least likely to survive were the optimists, because years of crushed hopes eventually wore them out. Optimism couldn’t be maintained for that long and they had no backup plan for their mental health.
This goes against what many people are taught in American society. We’re told to dream big, even delusionally big, because people with big dreams are the ones who succeed the most. That’s sometimes true, but the Stoics (a philosophical school that began in Ancient Greece) thought they had an alternative that led to a better life.
The Stoics divided their expectations into those that were changeable and unchangeable. They had no problem with working hard to survive and thrive, but when plans fell apart, they tried to be mentally ready for the truth that many things were not in their power to change. Ethan seems built from this same material, perhaps because people with cancer often find survival so out of their control. The challenges that producers throw at the EoE players are out of Ethan’s control too, but when he told his wife that he never wants to leave her again – that was in his control, so he changed it. He didn’t delude himself by hoping the producers would do good things for the EoE players, but he changed what he could to make good things happen.
As a side note, when Tyson flipped off the boxes where he could bequeath his fire tokens, did he do that because he had no fire tokens or because he wanted to keep them? Since fire tokens are valuable on EoE too, are other people bequeathing only because they don’t realize that? Strange that we haven’t seen anyone ask if they have to bequeath, since if this group of players got malaria, they’d still be looking for advantages under their hospital bed.