Leave All Behind

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"On a voyage, when the ship is anchored, if you go on shore to get water, you may gather a small shellfish or cuttlefish along the way as a side issue for yourself, but your thoughts must be directed at the ship and you must be constantly watchful if not the captain calls. And if he calls, leave all of it behind, so you won’t be thrown into the ship bound like cattle. It is the same in life: if instead of a small shellfish and cuttlefish, you are given a wife and child, there is nothing against that. But if the captain calls, rush towards the ship and leave all behind without looking back. And if you are old, don’t even go far from the ship, so you won’t default when you are called."  (Epictetus)

Enchiridion 3: Do Not Be Disturbed (On: The Nature Of A Thing)

"With regard to whatever objects give you delight, are useful, or are deeply loved, remember to tell yourself of what general nature they are, beginning from the most insignificant things. If, for example, you are fond of a specific ceramic cup, remind yourself that it is only ceramic cups in general of which you are fond. Then, if it breaks, you will not be disturbed. If you kiss your child, or your wife, say that you only kiss things which are human, and thus you will not be disturbed if either of them dies." (Epictetus, Enchiridon 3)

We have a dedicated space for coffee cups, and believe me when I say, "it's full." Cups stacked upon cups. There's a pic on the left. Every morning I get up, open the cupboard and find a red mug. Always the red one. I don't know why, I just do. I don't use any of the Superhero cups because they're not mine (except Captain America--that one's mine) and I shy from the ones with flowers or have cute Grandma sayings on them. My favorite mug is in my desk: a reproduction of Egyptian hieroglyphs. But I never use it. Its for decoration. No, my morning coffee starts in the red mug then I leave the house with my Yeti cup. 

But that's all they are: cups. If one breaks, I can grab another. I should treat my Egyptian cup the same way, but I'm not sure how to replace it. But it's just a cup, so why be disturbed? Aren't people more precious than cups? People are not replaceable. 

If we are averse to things we have no power to change, then we are wretched. Why? Because we cannot escape. People come and go. They do--that's how it is. We can't control that. 

What do we do? Love them, enjoy them while you have them, but let them go when they go. There's no getting them back. It's part of being human. Desiring the presence of one who is gone is futile. Sure, he or she can be missed, but we have no power to bring them back. What we do have power over is how we respond and I chose not to be disturbed. 

Loss happens. 


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