Sunday, February 22, 2015

Seneca on anger management

I arrived at my house in Alba completely exhausted by the journey, which was thoroughly uncomfortable for an old man like me, thrashed about in that heaving carriage. And what do you know? Nothing was ready for my arrival, apart from myself. So I’m writing to you from my old man’s bed (which is of course unmade), resting, unbathed (for there’s no water) and so tired that I’m not all that sorry that the baker and the cook (now that we’ve located them!) are slower than snails.
All these difficulties have made me aware again of how calm life is if you don’t take its inconveniences to heart, and how we wear ourselves out by magnifying them. It is indeed true that my baker has no bread — but perhaps the farm manager will have some, or a tenant, or the steward. “Not very nice bread, though,” you’ll say. But wait a minute: it will soon transform itself by hunger into food fit for a king. So I’ll wait to eat until I have my own bread, or hunger makes me less picky.
We must teach ourselves to bear things. You could be enormously rich, with a flotilla of servants, and still be mown down by obstacles thrown your way arbitrarily. None of us can have everything we want, but we can refrain from wanting what we haven’t got and cheerfully make the best of what’s to hand. Tonight’s culinary improvisation just might be more tasty, and will certainly be less monotonous, than the dinner I had anticipated. 
Perhaps freedom consists of a stomach that knows when to be quiet.

Seneca: On Luxury (Letters from a Stoic)

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