"The first steps toward wisdom are the most strenuous, because our weak and stubborn souls dread exertion and the unfamiliar. As you progress in your efforts, your resolve is fortified and self-improvement progressively comes easier. By and by it actually becomes difficult to work counter to your own best interest.
By the steady but patient commitment to removing unsound beliefs from our souls, we become increasingly adept at seeing through our flimsy fears, our bewilderment in love, and our lack of self control. We stop trying to look good to others. One day, we contentedly realize we've stopped playing to the crowd." - Epictetus
The days are difficult. I spend most days tested on my resolve to maintain the virtues. I am not the sage, I do not know him yet. The snicker in peoples voices at the idea of following the path laid out so long ago. Why are you doing that? Why would you want to be like that? Because I have always felt that I had nothing to cling to, no mantra or doctrine which I could use to parse right and wrong. Religion? Bah... Hypocrites and snake oil salesmen. Their answer to virtue is to cede control of all decisions to a higher power.
So I am like the mule towing the cart through town. Plodding along suffering the laughter because I don't look or act like the other horses. Tonight I will lay down and die, or I won't and I will wake in the morning glad. Tomorrow if I am given one, I will continue my progress and I will strive for that realization as Epictetus put it that I have stopped playing to the crowd.