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Record My Mind: Banal Records of a Pedestrian Life

Suffering and evil overwhelm me and I stew in my own juice. 

Thursday, April 07, 2005

4/07/2005 02:15:00 am - Seneca on time management and death

More stuff from Seneca that struck me:

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. Listen to the cry of our greatest poet, who as though inspired with divine utterance sings salutary verses:

Life's finest day for wretched mortals here
Is always first to flee.

Why do you linger?' he means. 'Why are you idle? If you don't grasp it first, it flees.' And even if you do grasp it, it will still flee. So you must match time's swiftness with your speed in using it, and you must drink quickly as though from a rapid stream that will not always flow.

This passage from Seneca reminds me of Pink Floyd's
Time:

The poet is telling you about the day - and about this very day that is escaping. So can it be doubted that for wretched mortals - that is, the preoccupied - the finest day is always the first to flee? Old age overtakes them while they are still mentally childish, and they face it unprepared and unarmed. For they have made no provision for it, stumbling upon it suddenly and unawares, and without realizing that is was approaching day by day. Just as travellers are beguiled by conversation or reading or some profound meditation, and find they have arrived at their destination before they knew they were approaching it; so it is with this unceasing and extremely fast-moving journey of life, which waking or sleeping we make at the same pace - the preoccupied become aware of it only when it is over.


His thoughts on death:
I ask you, wouldn't you say that anyone who took the view that a lamp was worse off when it was put out than when it was lit an utter idiot? We, too, are lit and put out. We suffer in the intervening period, but at either end of it there is deep tranquillity....We are wrong in holding that death follows after, when in fact it precedes as well as succeeds. Death is all that was before us. What does it matter, after all, whether you cease to be or
never begin, when the result of either is that you do not exist?
Seneca died a slow and painful death while remaining serene and dictating to secretaries. Here is an account of Seneca's death, which I decided to google after hearing Yang Yue talk about it over beer tonight.


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