Stoic Bites: Seneca the Younger (#02)

The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c. 4 BC – AD 65)

Seneca was a Roman stoic philosopher, statesman, and dramatist. His late writings are a strong pillar and laid the foundational knowledge of ancient stoicism.

In one of Seneca’s most famous essays ” On the Shortness of Life” Seneca emphasizes the shortness of human life, well he doesn’t actually think human life is short but believed that due to our nativity humans spend a lot of time wasting it and therefore make it shorter than was intended. He continues stating that we especially waste this time worrying about things that are in the long run meaningless and mostly out of our control. Seneca states:

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.

I wish I could say I have mastered not worrying about the future and material things but I’m far from it. I don’t want to speak for other people, but for me, I think most of my anxiety stems from the uncertainty of the future. I think it’s gotten to the sad point that I actually proudly define myself by my anxieties as if it’s all that I am. I’m not sure if worrying about one’s future and the future of others is something you can really get over but I think its something that can get better with a little work.

So I’m trying to learn to live more in the now. I suck at it! I mean I don’t really know how to quiet my mind and I haven’t found a good method to make mediation work for me without my ADD getting in the way and derailing the whole process. At the same time, I’m really trying to break my procrastination habits as I feel it plays a major role into why I sometimes don’t start or finish passion projects.

There is another piece of this quote from Seneca that offers help in moving in this direction. It implores the reader to take each day literally as if it were your last and organize it accordingly and do whatever makes you happy and fulfilled not only in service to yourself but to others around you.

Everyone hustles his life along, and is troubled by a longing for the future and weariness of the present. But the man who … organizes every day as though it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the next day… Nothing can be taken from this life, and you can only add to it as if giving to a man who is already full and satisfied food which he does not want but can hold.

That’s my little blurb for today, I have to be honest in saying that I’m writing this while laying on my bed, still in my pj’s and eating from a box of cookies, I think Seneca would highly disapprove of how I’m currently spending my time.

However, I do plan on at least taking a shower and at the very least writing down a concrete list of how I would want to spend the rest of this day and then actually do it.

Till next time.

Never forget to carpe all the diems.



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