At midday today I’m going to be going round an art gallery, so it seems sensible to do this now.
How can I exercise Stoic simplicity this week?
My present circumstances make it very difficult for me to go on a controlled diet or exercise regime during Stoic week.
Changes in my diet are difficult because I’m staying with the Queen of Food Fads, and catering for someone who is genuinely diabetic, but also on a slimming diet, convinced she is allergic to milk products and gluten, and refuses to eat chicken, even free-range, because “supermarkets lie”, is challenging enough without adding dietary restrictions of my own.
However, I should not use this as an excuse to binge on biscuits every day, so I will eschew the sweet stuff for the rest of the week.
I find the Stoic attitude to food rather grim. And we have more advice from corpulent super-rich, spectacularly-failed-tutor-of-Nero, Seneca. Now I realise that I ignored the Seneca quote that I should have pondered on for my morning meditation.
I’m not a fan of sententious Seneca (you guessed already?). I doubt very much whether his simplicity for a few days a month plan would have been met with approval by Marcus Aurelius or Epictetus. Seneca is Stoicism-light, pain-free Stoicism for the upper class.
Considering the Seneca quote for the morning meditation, my objection is that it isn’t true. Many people don’t have long lives and their lives end tragically with many things undone through no fault of their own. Nor do most people have much choice about how they spend their time, because of the necessity of earning a living.
It seems to me that Seneca is rather complacent to say that life is long enough if you use time wisely. Whether or not you are wasting your life is subjective (reference Bartlebooth in Perec’s Life a User’s Manual). But, even assuming that you reach the end of your life, having filled every day with activities meaningful to you, are you really going to say “No, I don’t need another day”?