I’m loving the reread of my Penguin classic titled Epictetus Discources and Selected Writings. Epictetus was born into slavery, achieved freedom (in more ways than one), and taught philosophy most of his life. He didn’t write a book, but made such an impression on one of his students that they wrote a compilation of his lectures so his thoughts live on today. Epictetus (55-135 AD) words are still relevant today. Here’s but a small, small sampling for your digestion this morning.
Epictetus thought the darkest vices were the lack of persistence and lack of self control. Without persistence we don’t endure hardships well, without self control we don’t resist pleasures, instead we over indulge. Sound familiar, friend? Epictetus, during one of his ccd lectures, says it well – “Two words should be committed to memory and obeyed by alternately exhorting and restraining ourselves, words that ensure we lead a mainly blameless and untroubled life. These two words were persist and resist.” Well spoken, Epictetus. Persist and resist.
Today during practice 8 with a wonderful women’s soccer team, we talked about most young people wanting to resist “sins” of commission. Translation, when we’re young we must resist doing too much of a good thing. As we grow older and older we want to resist “sins of omission.” Translation – when we’re old we must resist doing too little. We must persist doing even when we don’t feel like our body can do what it once did, you know. Of course we want to persist and resist in all the seasons of life, right?
What struggle are you enduring well, friend? What sweet indulgence are you resisting? Again, the ability to resist impulse is how we humans build virtue and defeat the natural slide into any number of vices. The natural decay of my body is a great reminder that it’s gonna be a fight to finish strong. God, help me finish by fighting for right not fat and wobbling slowly into the weeds. God, help me burn out bright. God, help me persist and resist while receiving and giving love. God, help me remember to reverse the order to give and take. Persist and resist. Give and take. Good “and,” yes?
Give and take care. Give and take…