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Snippet of The Tim Ferriss Show #149: How to Live in The Moment

From Audio: #149: How to Live in The Moment

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station description Tim Ferriss is a self-experimenter and bestselling author, best known for The 4-Hou... read more
The Tim Ferriss Show
Duration: 09:19
I once wrote, "We all like to appear 'successful' (a nebulous term at best) and the media likes to portray standouts as superheroes...Most 'superheroes' are nothing of the sort. They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk."
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I once wrote, "We all like to appear 'successful' (a nebulous term at best) and the media likes to portray standouts as superheroes...Most 'superheroes' are nothing of the sort. They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk."
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Greetings, ladies and germs. This is Tim Ferriss, and welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show. This is a shorter episode instead of a long format interview with an expert of some type, and we're going to focus on Seneca, my favorite stoic thinker and author, Seneca the younger. His writing that I'm going to highlight an excerpt is roughly 2000 years old. Yet it is timeless, and we are going to listen to on the shortness of life. This is an essay that I revisit at least once a quarter, along with all of his other letters that you can listen to. If you would like through the towel of Seneca at audible dot com, forward slash tim's books and this particular letter, I will highlight my favorite portion, which begins with quote. Why do you torment yourself and lose weight over some problem? Dot, dot, dot and on it goes. This is a fantastic reminder to mind the critical few to ignore the trivial many and much, much more. I hope you enjoy it. Mm Letter 49 on the shortness of Life. A man is indeed lazy and careless, my dear. Luckily, use if he is reminded of a friend only by seeing some landscape which stirs the memory. And yet there are times when the old familiar haunts stir up a sense of loss that has been stored away in the soul, not bringing back dead memories but rousing them from their dormant state just as the site of a lost friends favorite slave or his cloak or his house renews the Mourners grief, even though it has been softened by time. Now, lo and behold, Campania and especially Naples in your beloved Pompeii struck me when I viewed them with a wonderfully fresh sense of longing for you. You stand in full view before my eyes. I am on the point of parting from you. I see you choking down your tears and resisting without success the emotions that well up at the very moment when you try to check them. I seem to have lost you, but a moment ago for what is not. But a moment ago, when one begins to use the memory, it was but a moment ago that I sat as a lad in the school of the philosopher Sodium. But a moment ago that I began to plead in the courts, but a moment ago that I lost the desire to plead. But a moment ago that I lost the ability infinitely swift is the flight of time, as those see more clearly who are looking backwards for when we are intent on the present. We do not notice it so gentle as the passage of times headlong flight, do you ask? The reason for this all past time is in the same place. It all presents the same aspect. To us, it lies together. Everything slips into the same abyss. Besides, an event which in its entirety is of brief compass cannot contain long intervals. The time which we spend in living is but a point nay, even less than a point. But this point of time, infanticidal as it is, nature has mocked by making it seem outwardly of longer duration. She has taken one portion thereof and made it infancy. Another childhood, another youth, another the gradual slope, so to speak, from youth to old age and old age itself, is still another. How many steps for how short a climb it was. But a moment ago that I saw you off on your journey. And yet this moment ago makes up a goodly share of our existence, which is so brief we should reflect that it will soon come to an end all together. In other years, Time did not seem to me to go so swiftly. Now it seems fast beyond belief, perhaps because I feel that the finish line is moving closer to me, or it may be that I have begun to take heed and reckon up my losses. For this reason, I am all the more angry that some men claimed the major portion of this time for superfluous things. Time which, no matter how carefully it is guarded, cannot suffice even for necessary things. Cicero declared that if the number of his days were doubled, he should not have the time to read the Lyric poets, and you may rate the dialect emissions in the same class, but they are foolish in a more melancholy way. The lyric poets are avowedly frivolous, but the dialect Asians believe that they are themselves engaged upon serious business. I do not deny that one must cast a glance at dialectic, but it ought to be a mere glance, a sort of greeting from the threshold merely that 1 may not be deceived or judge these pursuits to contain any hidden matters of great worth. Why do you torment yourself and lose weight over some problem, which it is more clever to have scorned than to solve? When a soldier is undisturbed and traveling at his ease, he can hunt for trifles along his way. But when the enemy is closing in on the rear and a command is given to quicken the pace, necessity makes him throw away everything which he picked up in moments of peace and leisure. I have no time to investigate disputed inflections of words or to try my cunning upon them. Behold the gathering clans, the fast shut gates and weapons wetted ready for the war. I need a stout heart to hear without flinching this din of battle, which sounds round about and all, would rightly think me mad if when gray beards and women were heaping up rocks for the fortifications, when the armor clad youths inside the gates were awaiting, or even demanding the order for a Sally. When the spears of the foreman were quivering in our gates and the very ground was rocking with minds and subterranean passages. I say they would rightly think me mad if I were to sit idle, putting such pretty posers as this. What? You have not lost. You have, but you have not lost any horns. Therefore you have horns or other tricks constructed after the model of this piece of sheer silliness. And yet I may well seem in your eyes, no less mad if I spend my energies on that sort of thing. For even now I am in a state of siege. And yet, in the former case, it would be merely apparel from the outside that threatened me and a wall that sundered me from the foe. As it is now, death dealing perils are in my very presence. I have no time for such nonsense. A mighty undertaking is on my hands. What am I to do? Death is on my trail and life is fleeting away. Teach me something with which to face These troubles Bring it to pass that I shall cease trying to escape from death. And that life may cease to escape from me. Give me courage to meet hardships. Make me calm In the face of the unavoidable. Relax. The straightened limits of the time, which has allotted me, Show me that the good in life does not depend upon life's length, but upon the use we make of it also that it is possible, or rather usual for a man who has lived long to have lived too little. Say to me, When I lie down to sleep, you may not wake again, and when I returned, you may never go forth again. You are mistaken if you think that only on an ocean voyage there is a very slight space between life and death. No, the distance between is just as narrow everywhere. It is not everywhere that death shows himself so near at hand. Yet everywhere he is, as near at hand, rid me of these shadowy terrors. Then you will more easily deliver to me the instruction for which I have prepared myself at our birth. Nature made us teachable and gave us reason not perfect but capable of being perfected. Discuss for me justice, duty, thrift and that twofold purity both the purity which abstains from another's person and that which takes care of one's own self. If you will only refuse to lead me along bike paths. I shall more easily reach the goal at which I am aiming for. As the tragic poet says, the language of truth is simple. We should not therefore make that language intricate, since there is nothing less fitting for a soul of great endeavor than such crafty cleverness.
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