“Don’t you know life is like a military campaign? One must serve on watch, another in reconnaissance, another on the front line… So it is for us — each person’s life is a kind of battle, and a long and varied one too. You must keep watch like a soldier and do everything commanded… You have been stationed in a key post, not some lowly place, and not for a short time but for life.”EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 3.24.31-36
The analogy used in today’s chapter of The Daily Stoic is a military one — how life is like a battlefield and you must stay vigilant and fight your way through multiple adversities and temptations.
But it’s really just talking about the challenges we face in life, isn’t it? This existence on Earth will throw you many difficulties and curveballs, in an effort to derail your plans and your preparations. You are in the the battle of your life, and your training and discipline up to this point will determine if you succeed or fail.
You’ve got to have the right stuff. You need to have the right qualities and attributes in order to survive this war. If you’ve gone through “a hard winter training” and have stiffened your resolve, then you’ll be ready for whatever comes.
Epictetus points out that this is not a minor role that you play, “not some lowly place”, but a “key post”. You have the most important task of all. And it’s not a temporary assignment — it’s forever, in your own personal theater, which represents your character. You’re in the fight of your life, and you must try as hard as you can.