Every day is a good day for philosophy, especially the Classics, and the Stoics are the best of the lot.
Some days you are flying high and haven’t a care in the world. Those are good days for philosophy.
But, some days you aren’t. Some days you have your world turned on its head. On those days…you need a heavy dose of philosophy.
What is this philosophy, you ask?
People have been doing this life living thing for a while now. Somebody out there in the world, living or dead (if they wrote stuff down, or told stories) has a piece of wisdom to meet your need right now. If I can offer some incredibly empowering ‘friends’ to listen to, try Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, Viktor Frankl. These guys are straight shooters and won’t sugar coat anything, but they might give you the nugget that saves your life. Tonight, I took some deep breaths, a long soak, and read some Seneca, “On the Shortness of Life” and pretty much wanted to plagiarize every word for you here. Read the book, it’s less than 100 pages and will absolutely change your life. That said, here’s some advice from the ages:
“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 is 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. Just as when ample and princely wealth falls to a bad owner it is squandered to a moment, but wealth however modest, if entrusted to a good custodian, increases with use, so our lifetime extends amply if you managed it properly.”
He continues later:
You are living as if you are destined to live forever; your own frailty never occurs to you; you don’t notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and over-flowing supply- though all the while that very day which you are devoting to somebody or something may be your last. You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire. You will hear many people saying, ‘When I am fifty I shall retire into leisure; When I am sixty I shall give up public duties.’ And what guarantee do you have of a longer life?”
Later, this pearl:
“…They spend their lives in organizing their lives. They direct their purposes with an eye to a distant future. But putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty, live immediately.”
Nothing is promised to you, nothing is owed. You have this moment, so do something with it so that when you are looking back on your days, you can count this as one of the moments that you did something.