Diogenes was a famous Greek philosopher of the fourth century B.C., who established the philosophy of cynicism. He often walked about in the daytime holding a lighted lantern, peering around as if he were looking for something. When questioned about his odd behavior, he would reply, “I am searching for an honest man.”
Diogenes held that the good man was self-sufficient and did not require material comforts or wealth. He believed that wealth and possessions constrained humanity’s natural state of freedom. In keeping with his philosophy, he was perfectly satisfied with making his home in a large tub discarded from the Temple of Cybele, the goddess of nature. This earthen tub, called a pithos, and formerly been used for holding wine or oil for the sacrifices at the temple.
One day, Alexander the Great, conqueror of half the civilized world, saw Diogenes sitting in his tub in the sunshine. So the king, surrounded by his countries, approached Diogenes and said, “I am Alexander the Great.” The philosopher replied rather contemptuously, “I am Diogenes, the Cynic.” Alexander then asked him if he could help him in any way. “Yes,” shot back Diogenes, “don’t stand between me and the sun.” A surprised Alexander then replied quickly, “If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes.”
That must be the story of innumerable couples, and the pattern of life it offers has a homely grace. It reminds you of a placid rivulet, meandering smoothly through green pastures and shaded by pleasant trees, till at last it falls into the vasty sea; but the sea is so calm, so silent, so indifferent, that you are troubled suddenly by a vague uneasiness. Perhaps it is only by a kink in my nature, strong in me even in those days, that I felt in such an existence, the share of the great majority, something amiss. I recognized its social value. I saw its ordered happiness, but a fever in my blood asked for a wilder course. There seemed to me something alarming in such easy delights. In my heart was desire to live more dangerously. I was not unprepared for jagged rocks and treacherous shoals if I could only have change–change and the excitement of unforeseen.