Numbered precisely

If men could see their future years numbered as precisely as their past, what a flutter there would be among those who saw that their remaining years were few, how sparing of them would they be! With a fixed amount, however small, it is easy to economize; but when you cannot know when what you have will be gone you must husband your store very carefully.

~ Seneca

Seneca on Social Media

Over a billion people currently use Facebook — many at the cost of anxiety, lost honor, personal freedom, and certainly time. If asked why, however, many would reply, “why not?” The service is free, conventional wisdom tells us, so no matter how minor the benefits (which tend to orbit around a generalized fear of missing out), they’re still more substantial than the cost. But as Seneca points out, this assessment is misguided because it ignores the human toll of social media.

~ Cal Newport, from https://www.calnewport.com/blog/2016/03/11/seneca-on-social-media/

I generally try to suppress my urge to pounce on opportunities to talk about the well-known downsides of social networks. But a Seneca-CalNewport two-for-one is simply irrestible catnip for me. Here, Newport is referring to the value of one’s own time. That’s the human “toll” that so many people—as far as I can see at least—don’t factor in.

I think I am ready to give up fighting the fight; I’m done [or at least, I really should get a grip, and learn to be done] beating the drum about the evils of social networks. Know what I’m going to do instead? Double-down on creating things on the open web and let people decide what they want to do.

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Preoccupied with work

They are always preoccupied with work so that they may be in position to live better; they spend life in making provision for life. Their plans are designed for the future, but procrastination is the greatest waste of life. It robs us of each day as it comes, and extorts the present from us on promises of the future. Expectancy is the greatest impediment to living: In anticipation of tomorrow it loses today.

~ Seneca

Impregnable

But the man who puts all of his time to his own uses, who plans every day as if it were his last, is neither impatient for the morrow nor afraid of it. Is there some new kind of pleasure that an hour might bring? All are familiar, all have been experienced to the full the rest Lady Fortune may dispose of as she will; his life is now impregnable.

~ Seneca

Not satisfied

Of all people only those are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only they truly live. Not satisfied to merely keep good watch over their own days, they annex every age to their own. All the harvest of the past is added to their store. Only an ingrate would fail to see that these great architects of venerable thoughts were born for us and have designed a way of life for us.

~ Seneca

That quote opens Holiday’s, The Daily Stoic, which I have been circling through for a few years. Fortunately, I didn’t try to study Philosophy too early in life; it took me a couple decades once I started trying to improve myself for me to be ready to really listen. I hope you are far ahead of me.

In recent months I’ve been spending more time reading. The more I read, the more quotes I find to share, and the quote backlog is currently at level, “ridiculous.” I was scheduling quotes for publication in December of 2022 and finally decided I better schedule them more frequently. I have so many quotes that earlier this year I kicked off a podcast with daily quotes; search for “Little Box of Quotes” wherever you listen to podcasts.

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A long voyage

Would you think a man had traveled a long voyage if he had been caught in a savage gale immediately on leaving port and had been buffeted to and fro by alternate blasts from opposite directions so that he was running circles in the same spot? That man has had not a long voyage but a long floundering.

~ Seneca

The dedications of philosophy

[T]he dedications of philosophy are impregnable; age cannot erase their memory or diminish their force. Each succeeding generation will hold them in even higher reverence; what is close at hand is subject to envy, whereas the distant we can admire without prejudice. The philosopher’s life is therefore spacious; he is not hemmed in and constricted like others. He alone is exempt from the limitations of humanity; all ages are at his service as at a god’s. Has time gone by? He holds it fast in recollection. Is time now present? He utilizes it. Is it still to come? He anticipates it. The amalgamation of all time into one makes his life long.

~ Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

True happiness

True happiness is to enjoy the present without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied, for he that is wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.

~ Seneca

Unlimited desires

You live as if you would live forever; the thought of human frailty never enters your head, you never notice how much of your time is already spent. You squander it as though your store were full to overflowing, when in fact the very day of which you make a present to someone or something may be your last. Like the mortal you are, you are apprehensive of everything; but your desires are unlimited as if you were immortal.

~ Seneca