On the Shortness of Life (Seneca)

· Our lives are generally not as short as we believe them to be. We just waste a lot of our quality time, distracting ourselves with what is trivial and pointless and inessential. Then we regret the time that we have lost when it is too late.

· We often tell ourselves that after years of hard work, we will finally relax into our retirement and do what we want in our old age. But why should we live authentically when we are about to die, when we could have lived before then? What matters is to live now rather than hoping for some abstract future that may never come.

· We guard our possessions, but we give away our time without the same sense of protectiveness. When we don’t value what we have, and crave after what we don’t need, we suffer.

· Time will never return to us once it has gone. It is our responsibility to treasure it. It is easy to be distracted, misled, and lazy in our efforts, wasting years of our lives on paths that undermine us.

· It takes us a lifetime to learn how to live. It takes us a lifetime to learn how to die. How many mistakes have we made, how many choices have led to our suffering, so that we could earn our wisdom?

· A worthy life is not measured in years, but in the wisdom of our thoughts and actions. We may survive until we’re fat and wrinkled and gray, but are we grateful for the preciousness of each moment? Are we committed to our integrity? The person we will one day become is based on what we do in the present.

· No one will bring us back our lost years. No one will return us to our former selves. We can’t go back to our past, but must adapt ourselves to the moment we are in, and act virtuously. What we postpone until tomorrow may never come. There may never be a tomorrow.

· Statues will wear down into dust. Plants will wither into the sun. Humans will decompose, eaten away by maggots. Even the greatest civilizations of the past have all fallen under their own weight. Everything will break down. We grow out of decay and will eventually return again. What will we do with the time that we have left?

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