Sunday, May 30, 2021

Letters from a Stoic 69 - On Rest and Restlessness

On Rest and Restlessness

The previous letter discussed retirement from work.  It would seem this letter is somewhat of a continuation, as Seneca advises Lucilius to cease his meandering and itchy legs.

the spirit cannot through retirement grow into unity unless it has ceased from its inquisitiveness and its wanderings.

As one enters a retirement phase of life and takes on more hours to the study of philosophy, he must focus and attempt to unify his soul and actions.  Too long, one has given into the things of indifferents and now one must direct his full attention to the pursuit of wisdom.

Give your eyes time to unlearn what they have seen, and your ears to grow accustomed to more wholesome words. ...  he who would lay aside his desire for all the things which he used to crave so passionately, must turn away both eyes and ears from the objects which he has abandoned.

Therefore, while in retirement and in a focused pursuit of love of wisdom, one must turn away from what he lusted after most of his life.  A whole life-time is not enough to rid oneself of all vices, let alone a few decades of retirement.  Therefore, in retirement, all the more sense of urgency ought to be applied.

Vices tempt you by the rewards which they offer; but in the life of which I speak, you must live without being paid. Scarcely will a whole life-time suffice to bring our vices into subjection ... Even constant care and attention can scarcely bring any one undertaking to full completion.

I don't know what my own retirement from the workforce will be like.  I've often contemplated that it ought to be lived in quiet and in minimalist fashion, rather than buying a large home and expensive cars.  I think what retirement has in the cards for my wife and I is a small, but comfortable home, cars that get us there and time with kids and grandkids well spent.  And the rest of my time, I hope, will be spent reading, writing and teaching philosophy to others, while continuing my own pursuit of wise and just and temperate living.

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