Conquering Fears, Stoic advice

Memento Mori, Carpe Diem


As I woke up today and began meditating I noticed that my thoughts were pretty revolved, like a wild sea. I was thinking about so many things at the same time, like my job, my life, the things I did and did not yesterday, all the things I wanted to get done for the day until eventually, it started to quiet down a bit, it always does.

After the meditation session was over I started to write all the things that needed to get done and I realized that I was in a kind of rush still, writing quickly and trying to get to work as fast as possible. I was and still am in this moment in a bit of a rush.

I opened my email and gladly saw I received the Daily Stoic email, and call it fortune but the advice of today was precisely what I needed. The title: “Live a full life, not a fast life”.

I read that email gladly. It said that Memento mori (remember you are going to die), is misunderstood. It can make you act with recklessness and as a libertine, as in movies when an asteroid is about to hit the earth. This is not what the Stoics meant.

“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.”
― Seneca

What Seneca said was to live each day as if it were your whole life. Do not grab each day as if it were your last one, but, grab each day as if it could be your last one. Live each day fully,  as if that day is your whole life.

Now, this is more relatable. Make each day a mighty day, be the character you’ve always aspired to be and when you get to sleep, if you make it, be proud to call the day.

“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.”
― Seneca

To achieve this, you have to live now, above time, as Emerson would say. No activity is emersonmeaningless as you make it from the right character and with courage, hell, enjoy your life, now. 

I have to say, I feel so much better now. I write with ease and am grateful for this new light and day. I’ll leave you with this passage which has helped me before and I hope will do you good now.

Carpe Diem

Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say
‘I think,’ ‘I am,’ but quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the
blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses under my window make no
reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they
exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose;
it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its
whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root
there is no less. Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature, in all moments
alike. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but
with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround
him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong
until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The single most important stoic decision.

1 Comment

There is a famous and quite accurate stoic comparison of our lives with a donkey and a cart that says: Our way through life is like being a donkey tied to a cart. The cart is going to go where it is going to go, nothing to do about that. The donkey is tied, so it has to follow as well. The donkey has two options, follow willingly and therefore reducing annoyances for him and everybody in the cart or forcibly, therefore increasing trouble for him and everybody else.

This is a profoundly important lesson. Life can be lived in fear or in love and by love I mean courage, temperance and basically everything that is good and noble in a human being. You can say that you can live your life with virtue or with vice, the dark side or the way of the Jedi. Think of it however you like, but those are the two basic ways of being.

“Fate leads the willing and drags along the reluctant.”

― Seneca

There is a price to pay for everything in life. Think of any situation in your life that you Michael_Zeno_Diemer_-_Ship_at_Seadon’t like. If you want to get out of it, it is possible, but a price must be payed. Inaction is a form of action as well and a price must be payed for inaction.

Can you see where I’m going?

Know that there is always a price for everything. This goes for the way you live your life as well. If you live in vice, in protection mode, the price that you have to pay is literally hell. Not in the afterlife, but right now.

The opposite is true as well. If we choose to be led by fate willingly and live our lives from love, courage and temperance. Life will be a whole lot easier and much more rewarding. Jordan Peterson explains this in 12 Rules for Life:

Your nervous system responds in an entirely different manner when you face the demands of life voluntarily. You respond to a challenge, instead of bracing for a catastrophe. You see the gold the dragon hoards, instead of shrinking in terror from the all-too-real fact of the dragon. You step forward to take your place in the dominance hierarchy, and occupy your territory, manifesting your willingness to defend, expand and transform it. That can all occur practically or symbolically, as a physical or as a conceptual restructuring.

To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accepting the to please God, in the ancient language).

This is the single most important decision you can make at every moment of your life. Choose wisely. Who knows, maybe you’ll start leading the cart yourself if you start pulling.

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