This is not My Philosophical Life!

Seneca, Moral Epistle 37.4-5

“And philosophy will grant you this path. So, entrust yourself to it, if you wish to be safe, if you want to be happy, and, really, if you want to be free, which is the most important thing. There’s no other way to approach this. Foolishness is a basic thing, it is wretched, unclean, servile, and overcome by many savage afflictions.

Such afflictions can be harsh masters, controlling us in turns or sometimes simultaneously–but you can fight them with wisdom, which is the only true freedom. There’s one way to get there and the path is direct. You will not get lost. Move along with a sure step: if you want everything under control, then give yourself to reason. You will rule many others, if reason rules you.

From wisdom you will understand what you should attempt and how to do it. You won’t just fall into things. There’s no one you can offer me who knows how they began to desire what they want–one doesn’t get to desire by planning, but by stumbling around impulsively. Fortune does not wage war against us more often than we attack Fortune.

It is shame, then, to be dragged along instead of forging ahead and then in the middle of chaotic events to ask in confusion: “How did I get here?” Goodbye.

Et hanc tibi viam dabit philosophia. Ad hanc te confer, si vis salvus esse, si securus, si beatus, denique si vis esse, quod est maximum, liber. Hoc contingere aliter non potest. Humilis res est stultitia, abiecta, sordida, servilis, multis affectibus et saevissimis subiecta. Hos tam graves dominos, interdum alternis imperantes, interdum pariter, dimittit a te sapientia, quae sola libertas est. Una ad hanc fert via, et quidem recta; non aberrabis. Vade certo gradu; si vis omnia tibi subicere, te subice rationi; multos reges si ratio te rexerit.

Ab illa disces, quidet quemadmodum adgredi debeas; non incides rebus. Neminem mihi dabis, qui sciat, quomodo quod vult, coeperit velle; non consilio adductus illo, sed inpetu inpactus est. Non minus saepe fortuna in nos incurrit quam nos in illam. Turpe est non ire, sed ferri et subito in medio turbine rerum stupentem quaerere: “Huc ego quemadmodum veni?” Vale.

GIF of David Byrne from the video "Once in a life time" on his knees, raising his arms, saying "how did I get here?"

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