“Remember to conduct yourself in life as if at a banquet. As something being passed around comes to you, reach out your hand and take a moderate helping. Does it pass you by? Don’t stop it. It hasn’t yet come? Don’t burn in desire for it, but wait until it arrives in front of you. Act this way with children, a spouse, toward position, with wealth — one day it will make you worthy of a banquet with the gods.”EPICTETUS, ENCHIRIDION, 15
Pretend that life is like a banquet. Some delicious things are coming your way, but you must do your best not to pine for them before they’ve arrived. Other things might skip you entirely, but you have to just let them go. It’s hard! But you have to apply the same manners you would use at a banquet to your entire life. That’s the wisdom of Epictetus’ metaphor in The Daily Stoic today.
Don’t be too eager for the next dish. The future can’t be controlled, so learn to love your fate instead.
And don’t sulk if the dish you wanted passed you by. Don’t get attached to the past, because it holds you back.
Instead enjoy the present with reverence for the dish you’ve been served. This is perhaps the most important point made about this banquet of life — that we must learn to live in the moment.
But this is much easier said than done. My friend Tim wrote a post about living in the moment, complete with tips on how to actually do that (because it’s fricking hard).
I’m struggling with living in the present right now, in fact. I am looking forward to a big life change that I’ve written about previously. I’m planning to move my family to another country and start a new life. But it seems that there are obstacles at every turn. And my mind is always several months ahead. I’m probably missing out on what’s occurring right in front of me — I’m trying not to, but it’s inevitable when your head is in the future.
Ugh. I’ll keep trying. I don’t want to miss out on the banquet of life. Gotta take each dish as it comes.