Cutting Seneca’s On the Shortness of Life down to an even smaller version of an already short read, you’re wasting your life on meaningless pursuits and will die unhappy having not lived a moment . . . “unless you click here right now, click here, come on click-click-click!!” he didn’t say. Well, ok, there’s a bit more to it than that, but not a lot. Time, as I’ve said previously is possibly the most important thing we possess, and we squander it often. But how is it best spent? Well, lucky for you, Seneca has the answer!
Spending your life in drunkenness and debauchery, being waited on hand-and-foot . . . isn’t the answer. I know, gutting, right? Seneca believes this would simply reduce your will and wit to actually live. This would be cataclysmic to some of my friends: as it’s their dream to have their every whim satisfied by some subservient. But getting back on course, Seneca persists that man must balance seeking constant achievement vs leisure activities, otherwise a life spent saving for retirement (or that special day) is a life wasted. Seneca’s isn’t exactly embracing carpe diem, but he’s rallying against the day that never comes*. I had read somewhere along the line, and this may be from another etch of memory, that Seneca would yearly take a sabbatical and live and as a pauper for a few days, to reassess his life, undoubtedly guarding against indulgences whilst also re-validating his perspective.
The life of a sage, leaning on the shoulders of Zeno, Pythagoras, Democritus, Aristotle and Theophrastus, Socrates, Epicurus, Carneades, Stoics and Cynics, is a worthwhile life indeed . . . according to Seneca anyway, which seems a little self-serving. Admittedly I barely know much more than a few names in the above, but the tenet of Seneca’s argument is that you should learn from others that have spent their lives pondering some of the infinite questions on life that flit through your mind. I have to admit a certain priggishness when it comes to reading novels, which leans on the basic foundations of the above: if an author is still revered decades and even centuries after their death, that has got to be worth some of my time! Cervantes and Dostoyevsky, I doff my cap.
So in my mind a balance must be reached, for what good is all the learning if you don’t put it into practice? Whilst reading of and in itself is leisurely, especially a non-fiction book like Don Quixote, to learn and lean on the shoulders of giants likes Plato pays no dividends if you’re not living what you’ve learnt. That way, to leave with a quote from the great man, "life is long enough...if the whole of it is well invested"
*Metallica - in my head, you’re killing it right now
Writing and writing...