from the Enchiridion by Stoic philosopher Epictetus


In all things, think about
what comes before
and what comes after.

Then, act. Otherwise,
you will start with a bang
and then begin to whimper.

Who doesn’t want to be
an Olympic champion?

But give some thought to
what comes before the glory
and what comes after.

If you want all of it—
the rules,
the diet,
the exercise—
go for it. Make your
trainer your boss.

Want to be a gladiator?
You might get slammed;
you might eat dust;
you might get beaten.

Think about it.

If you still want it,
go for it. But first,
consider—or you will look
like the kids who play at
wrestler or gladiator.

Consider or, like an ape,
you will mimic what you see,
then wander to the next thing.

Consider. Go for what
you want with zeal.

Want to be a philosopher?
It’s not all about the talking.

Consider: what do you want?
Want to be a wrestler?
Do you have the back for it, the legs?

We all have different strengths.
Stoics don’t gorge,
don’t get angry, don’t get drunk.
They follow a middle way.

Consider all this, then,
go ahead, if you want.
But be consistent.

Either act with integrity
or look like a child at play.

Cultivate your reason;
cultivate your body.
Work on your inside and
your outside.

Do some thinking about it.
Or be one of the mob. (author’s translation)


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