Taking the Mind Down from the Shelf

Seneca, Moral Epistles 72.1-2

“The thing you were asking me about used to be clear enough because I had learned it so well. But I haven’t checked my memory for a while and it isn’t coming back to me so easily. I seem to have turned out like those books that are stuck together from sitting in place. My mind must be unrolled and what ever has been put there should be perused on occasion so it is ready whenever it needs to be used.

So, let’s talk about something else now, since that topic requires a lot of attention and hard work. Once I can spend a longer time in the same place, I’ll take up your question. There are some topics you can write about even when you are traveling; but others require a chair, time, and quiet.

But, still, something should be done even on days like these, filled as that are from beginning to end. There’s no time when new distractions won’t appear. We plant them and many shoots spring up from one. We keep closing our own tasks, claiming “As soon as I finish this, I will turn to serious work” or “If I ever complete this annoying task, I will dedicate myself to study.”

Quod quaeris a me, liquebat mihi, sic rem edidiceram, per se. Sed diu non retemptavi memoriam meam, itaque non facile me sequitur. Quod evenit libris situ cohaerentibus, hoc evenisse mihi sentio; explicandus est animus et quaecumque apud illum deposita sunt, subinde excuti debent, ut parata sint, quotiens usus exegerit. Ergo hoc in praesentia differamus; multum enim operae, multum diligentiae poscit. Cum primum longiorem eodem loco speravero moram, tunc istud in manus sumam. Quaedam enim sunt, quae possis et in cisio scribere. Quaedam lectum et otium et secretum desiderant. Nihilominus his quoque occupatis diebus agatur aliquid et quidem totis. Numquam enim non succedent occupationes novae; serimus illas, itaque ex una exeunt plures. Deinde ipsi nobis dilationem damus: “cum hoc peregero, toto animo incumbam “et” si hanc rem molestam composuero, studio me dabo.”

button choice meme with seneca choosing over options of "serious work" or "mundane tasks"


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