Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Sunday, October 11, 2020

"On the Shortness of Life" by Seneca

I read this essay due to the power of suggestion. And because it sounded worthwhile, and because it is super-short. (Much like life itself!) 

It was a good thing to read. I didn't come across any real earth-shattering concepts, but it was full of things to keep in mind if you're trying not to waste your life. I noted my favorites:

  • People are loath to squander their material possessions, but they think nothing of squandering their time. Time is treated as a mere trifle, but it is actually the most precious thing in the world. 
  • In a way, retirement does not make sense. Don't wait until the end of your life to live your life.
  • Many complain that they are wasting their lives, yet they take no action that will change that reality. 
  • The worst are those who spend all their time on lust and wine, because their waste of time is dishonorable. (To which I would add . . . sure, you shouldn't spend ALL your time on lust and wine, but we all need to relax every now and then!)
  • Plan out every day as if it were your last, and you will neither long for nor fear tomorrow. (I'm not sure how realistic this one is, or whether I'm just trying to apply it too literally; if tomorrow were truly my last day of life, I would not be doing what I am currently planning to do--which is going to work--but because the likelihood is high that tomorrow will not be my last day, I can't change my plans.) 
  • Just because someone has existed for a long time does not mean they have lived a long time.
  • I noted this last one more because I thought it was funny than because I agreed with it: The gathering of knowledge is basically a waste of time--unless you're gathering knowledge about philosophy. Studying the philosophers is a good use of time. 
Here is what I got from this essay that I would like to keep at the forefront of my mind: Embrace the past (don't forget it), use the present (don't neglect it), anticipate the future (don't fear it). Don't lose the day in expectation of the night, don't lose the night in fear of the dawn.