Epictetus: The stoic way of acceptance

“When you are delighted with anything, be delighted as with a thing which is not one of those which cannot be taken away, but as something of such a kind, as an earthen pot is, or a glass cup, that, when it has been broken, you may remember what it was and may not be troubled… What you love is nothing of your own: it has been given to you for the present, not that it should not be taken from you, nor has it been given to you for all time, but as a fig is given to you or a bunch of grapes at the appointed season of the year. But if you wish for these things in winter, you are a fool. So if you wish for your son or friend when it is not allowed to you, you must know that you are wishing for a fig in winter.”

Stoic philosopher Epictetus (c. 55–135 AD) in The Discourses  argues that the antidote to grief is found not in securing ourselves against prospective loss through self-protections but, when loss does come, in orienting ourselves to it and to what preceded it differently — in training ourselves not only to accept but to embrace the temporality of all things, even those we most cherish, so that when love does vanish, we are left with the acceptance of the loss and gratefulness that it had entered our lives at all and animated them for the time that it did.

Breakfast forever/ oil on canvas/90x90cm

“To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity and trust.” ― H D Thoreau

Notes from the attic is exactly what it says. I’m living in a tiny attic, the place of the creative joy and struggle of my life. These blog notes are timely fragments of the books that make me wonder about life, about the journey between my birth and death. This journey seems to have only one purpose: to find the way to myself. You are welcome to explore my paintings on this website  and connect with me through instagram or facebook, or you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter to hear about new works or notes from the attic.

Copyright © 2020 Melinda Matyas. All rights reserved.