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Moral letters to Lucilius.

First Letter.

The work of Lucius Aeneas Seneca “Moral Letters to Lucilius” is a unique literary work, which to this day impresses with the deep insights that the Stoic philosopher has reached. It would be difficult to describe in just a few words the lessons and wisdom that anyone could learn from it. Despite the time that separates us from its creation, today everyone can successfully use it to upgrade their understanding and improve their personality.

Each of the “letters” to Lucilius is more than impressive and leaves an imprint on the reader. In the following lines, we will start our series of reflections on the moral lesson in Seneca’s work by paying attention to the first of them. This specific letter unfolds the topic of time.

It often happens in human life that only when something is coming to an end, we manage to realize and appreciate its true value. When we talk about time, the same is true in full force. Time is the most valuable resource we have, but due to the fast pace of everyday life and the trivial problems that our consciousness deals with, we do not understand and consider it as such. That is why we must approach it with care, as Seneca writes, “Continue to act thus, my dear Lucilius – set yourself free for your own sake; gather and save your time, which till lately has been forced from you, or filched away, or has merely slipped from your hands.” We are not capable of fighting its irreversibility and relentless pace. We cannot influence it. We can’t stop it. We can’t even create it.

First letter

The three main phases of time that we can clearly distinguish are past, present, and future. In itself, time has no beginning and no end but is an endless path on which man begins to walk and reaches a certain point without being able to continue due to the limitations imposed by the mortal body. We act wrongly when we are constantly delving into the past and allowing the thought of “What if…” not to give us peace of mind. It is also wrong when we are focused only on the future because it does not always bring what we have dreamed of and hoped for. What is here and now – the present is the moment, when we must be most aware. We need to focus on it because it is the bridge between the past and the future. If we do not pass through it consciously, then we are doomed to drown in a river of constant wandering.

As Seneca writes,“ …hold every hour in your grasp. Lay hold of today’s task, and you will not need to depend so much upon tomorrow’s. While we are postponing, life speeds by.” In the present, one must invest all one’s efforts in achieving one’s goals and aspirations for upgrading, developing, and cultivating.

Time can heal wounds caused by difficult moments. It is wisdom that teaches us to fight and stand up for ourselves. Everyone must learn to appreciate it and use it wisely because nothing in life happens twice. Only the futile efforts to return what was missed are repeatable.

Human life is a palette of emotions, experiences, growth, and self-realization. Time is that endless cycle that is part of our existence. We have it, but what we do with it is a matter of personal choice. Whether we spend more of it on accumulating knowledge, on our loved ones, or entertainment, depends solely on our priorities. It is important not to postpone for the future what needs to be done now, because it may never come. We remain robbed and lose our time forever. As Seneca writes, “The most disgraceful kind of loss, however, is that due to carelessness. Furthermore, if you will pay close heed to the problem, you will find that the largest portion of our life passes while we are doing ill, a goodly share while we are doing nothing, and the whole while we are doing that which is not to the purpose“.