In this series of blog posts I attempt to translate the Moral letters to Lucilius by Seneca into modern English.
Letter 12. Embrace age and its benefits
I’m feeling my age; memories are fading and gone are the days where I can act on impulse. If I do this now it hurts too much. Even tough structures such as my house, which I built myself, are falling to pieces. Despite the fact that this is a well maintained property, it’s still crumbing. This serves to remind me of my mortality and the frailty of life. Young people act and speak in a way which I can’t grasp anymore, and don’t appreciate that they won’t live forever. Speaking of young people I saw someone that I knew as a child today, and he looks like an old man!
To be truthful, I embrace my old age. While you are still healthy and not in terminal decline, then you can look back on what you have achieved in life and take pleasure. The other benefit is that all the misguided desires and impulses you had when you were young have subsided.
And like I’ve said before, I’m not afraid of dying. Death is part of life and you die with every moment that passes. Embrace each day as though it is a gift. You should be able to go to sleep thinking that I’ve lived today as well as I could and if I wake-up tomorrow, I’ll be grateful. You don’t need to wait until you’re old to have this attitude.
In closing, I’ll leave you with this thought. There isn’t any restriction to living. You have free will and you can choose how to live and how long to live. There is an ever present opportunity to end your life, if you wish. Always be grateful and aware of this fact.
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.