In this series of blog posts I attempt to translate the Moral letters to Lucilius by Seneca into modern English.
Letter 1. Don’t waste time
How we use the time when we are alive is the only thing that belongs to us. And using this limited amount of time well is the most important thing we can do.
Time is not “ours” as such. The difference between the time we have or don’t have is not the same as say, the money we have or don’t have. The amount of money you have fluctuates. Not only do you not know how much time you have but when you lose all your time you have nothing. Once a day of your life is gone, then its gone. It will never return.
It’s ironic then that the people who realise this are the ones who have used up the majority of their time. These people have used their experience to decide that it was the thing they should have valued the most.
People who think they have lots of time left, tend not to have this insight. They believe that death is a distant event. But death simply means to lose your life, and this happens continually.
Read the original text here.
I recommend you read all of the most influential Letters in this new Penguin Classic book. It is the best translation, in my opinion, because it captures Seneca’s humour and style. It is also the easiest to read. My copy is full of highlighted lines, margin notes and tabs. A treasure chest of profound, practical advice which you can apply immediately.
Warning: this is not an academic text; it describes a hands-on philosophy of life. Discover powerful, instantly helpful wisdom. The complete guide to a improving your day-to-day activities, thoughts and actions.