Seneca Writes to Me
The coffee hits my cup, I journal for 10 minutes, read Seneca’s “On the Shortness of Life”, then I write an article.
That’s been my morning routine for the last 3 months. The book changes depending on my mood or when I finish 1.
When I clicked “Purchase” on Amazon, I thought I already knew what Seneca was going to say. It was a mindset-affirming purchase. I wasn’t looking for a challenge…just someone intelligent to tell me I’ve been right the whole time.
But this morning, Seneca took aim at me:
But life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.
For as soon as their preoccupations fail them, they are restless with nothing to do, not knowing how to dispose of their leisure or make the time pass. And so they are anxious for something else to do, and all the intervening time is wearisome…
Any deferment of the longed-for event is tedious to them. Yet the time of the actual enjoyment is short and swift, and made much shorter through their own fault. For they dash from one pleasure to another and cannot stay steady in one desire.
They lose the day in waiting for the night, and the night is fearing the dawn.
I’m still reeling as I write this down.
Most of my life, I’ve been anxious for “what’s next”, but blind to “what’s here”, and willfully ignorant to “what was”.
Go, go, go. Produce, produce, produce. Now on to the next thing…
I’ve always thought this was a good way to live because at least I wasn’t sitting around watching Netflix. At least I was doing stuff.
I always want to be somewhere else, doing new things. As if the place I’m in is worthless, as is the work of my hands.
I’m realizing now, I’ve just been aimless.
This has to change. I think it’s starting to change.
One of my greatest fears is waking up an old man — spiteful of the life I lived and the choices I made — all because I never stopped to gather up past, present, future in one basket.
Some time has passed: he grasps it in his recollection. Time is present: he uses it. Time is to come: he anticipates it. This combination of all times into one gives him a long life.