on shaping your life according to nature and not people’s opinions06 Dec 2016
after a recent big talk[link coming someday], i started reading letters from a stoic by seneca because someone quoted him extensively. there’s a lot of good stuff in there so i’ll probably write a good bit about what sticks with me. this is the first.
for a little context, it seems like seneca is an upper-class older guy who has taken to mentoring this younger guy, lucilius. they write letters back and forth where seneca shares some insight and advice about things lucilius has said in his previous letter. seneca ends each letter with some quote from some other philosopher.
the types of quote he ends with are usually short, seemingly obvious, but dense and important. anyway, the first quote that’s a goody is:
“if you shape your life according to nature, you will never be poor. if you shape your life to people’s opinions, you will never be rich.”
— seneca quoting epicurus, letter xvi
i don’t know why i have never thought about nature as an alternative frame to society for evaluating the quality of my life. i think about eating seasonally and even sketched out an idea for a digital seasonal eating calendar tool (sketch 1, sketch 2. i try (mostly fail, but try!) to plan my year so that it follows the energy of seasons: lots of activity in the spring and summer, calmer in the fall and winter. using a natural frame for evaluating my state of being seems so obvious and yet i’ve never have.
in addition to thinking about my life in the context of planetary well-being (lesson learned from infinite growth), when i do my annual retreat in jan 2017 i think i’m also going to adjust my weekly calendar schedule based on seasonality (i.e. larger number of things per week during the spring and summer, and fewer in the fall and winter) instead of trying to minimize the amount of social resistance i face.
this framing has come up in some other areas of my life:
- having conversations with my friend caroline about “enoughness”
- living at 40 cottage and talking with my housemates there (especially annemarie) about what it meant to be truly wealthy – it usually involved good company and good food
spell-check, link-finding, & formatting: 7:07