“Life will follow the path it started upon, and will neither reverse nor check its course; it will make no noise, it will not remind you of its swiftness.“ – Seneca, On The Shortness Of Life
I re-read Seneca’s On The Shortness Of Life again over the last few days. Its a quick read but jammed full of timeless quotes we’ve all heard and yet don’t hear. They say repetition penetrates the dullest of minds, and perhaps thats a reason to re-read essays like this often. By dull I don’t mean I’m an idiot (though you may insist I reconsider), but rather distracted by the madness of life. We’re all so distracted by the whirl of everyday that we don’t value the breathless moment we’ll never see again. Seneca pokes at us from a distance- he’s been dead far longer than he was alive. And so will we be someday too soon. And so it is that he reminds us; why are you not fully alive today? Stop postponing time you don’t have!
“Postponement is the greatest waste of life; it deprives them of each day as it comes, it snatches from them the present by promising something hereafter. The greatest hindrance to living is expectancy, which depends upon the morrow and wastes to-day.”
It isn’t easy to honor the urgency of life. Even as I write this I’m distracted by other pressing things and need to force myself to turn off the work monitor until normal working hours. To turn off the Twitter feed, and all the rest of the noise. And to reflect on what matters now. For now will surely slip away as quickly as then did. The stack of thens grows taller by the day, casting a shadow on the brightness of tomorrow. There is only now.
Life is divided into three periods – that which has been, that which is, that which will be. Of these the present time is short, the future is doubtful, the past is certain.”
So what do we do in a pandemic when we can’t travel freely? In a career that demands fair share of your time? And in other commitments that demand of you? I believe we choose wisely, and make the most of the moments at hand. To live in this moment, drawing from the past for wisdom, and with an eye towards the future we’re navigating towards (even if we might never reach it). Making the most of our lives in the time we have.
“The part of life we really live is small. For all the rest of existence is not life, but merely time”