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Brain Pickings - The Shortness of Life: Seneca on Busyness and The Art of Living Wide Rather Than Living Long


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"In our habitual compulsion to ensure that the next moment contains what this one lacks, Seneca suggests, we manage to become, as another wise man put it, “accomplished fugitives from ourselves.” Seneca writes:

Everyone hustles his life along, and is troubled by a longing for the future and weariness of the present. But the man who … organizes every day as though it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the next day… Nothing can be taken from this life, and you can only add to it as if giving to a man who is already full and satisfied food which he does not want but can hold. So you must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long. For suppose you should think that a man had had a long voyage who had been caught in a raging storm as he left harbor, and carried hither and thither and driven round and round in a circle by the rage of opposing winds?" 

I can see how it could be easy to be further down the WRONG road and be oblivious to that reality.

Well yeah, we get so caught up putting one foot in front of the other that we often forget to check if we're on the right path at all.

Maybe everything is the "right path". 

We have vast opportunity to learn, try, fail, try again, fail again, try again, succeed a little, try, keep trying.

I'm convinced the only "wrong path" is the safe path, the easy path, the path where we never test ourselves. 

Why not take the risk?

What's the worst that can happen??

Pain. Suffering. Hurting people you love. Death.

Lots of bad things can happen. Not all risks are worth taking. 

Ahhh Adam, you engage daily in behaviors which many would consider risky - and  you are famous for it. 

You give your time to help people - a ton of your time - for free. It's amazing - and for many people, that is the riskiest thing they could imagine.You have rationalized the inherent goodness, rewards, and safety and thus feel that the risk is worth it.

IMHO, we all take risks using our own analysis of the situation.

For some people pain, death, even hurting people we love are acceptable risks.

Statistically driving in your car to something which might kill you is riskier than the event itself. 

All the great advances in history came from people willing to push the envelope.

That Musk character - risk taker, Branson - risk taker, any pro football player - huge risk taker.

Jobs, Columbus, Wright, Hillary, Norgay, Ford, Hamilton, Senna, Fangio, Tesla, Cunningham - we can name famous risk takers all day and thank them for their courage and perseverance. 

In the end, we all die. 

It's the only constant. 

Pain, suffering - also constants of the human condition.

Emily posted an article - http://pandawhale.com/post/50285/why-taking-risks-is-one-of-the-greatest-keys-to-living-fulfilled

Martin is right - we need to get back into the messiness of life. 

Messy is risky. It's also the most rewarding thing we can do.

Hell, it feels risky for me to write this and argue that you are wrong.

Heh. You're not wrong, Bill. 

I just wanted to point out that there are very real things we can lose and hurt.

So we can't just take risks without thinking about worst case scenarios first. 

daaang, i live for pandawhale threads like this!

look at us, getting all lively!!

It's true. I be uppity. 

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

“How we spend our days,” Annie Dillard memorably wrote in her soul-stretchingmeditation on the life of presence“is, of course, how we spend our lives.” And yet most of us spend our days in what Kierkegaard believed to be our greatest source of unhappiness — a refusal to recognize that “busy is a decision” and that presence is infinitely more rewarding than productivity. I frequently worry that being productive is the surest way to lull ourselves into a trance of passivity and busyness the greatest distraction from living, as we coast through our lives day after day, showing up for our obligations but being absent from our selves, mistaking the doing for the being.

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