“In short, you must remember this — that if you hold anything dear outside of your own reasoned choice, you will have destroyed your capacity for choice.”EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 4.4.23
We become attached — to the love of others, to physical things, to careers, to particular outcomes. We want things to stay a certain way. And that’s a disaster for us.
Because everything changes, always, whether we want it to or not. Life moves on, the river of time keeps flowing. No matter how much we might hope for it, absolutely nothing stands still. And that’s not good and it’s not bad — it just is.
Change is out of our control. Being attached means refusing to accept that reality, and holding on anyway in sheer futility. It’s a little like trying to hold onto waves after they crash on the beach.
Attachment means clinging to things, instead of letting the present unfold as it may — and that blocks us directly from our reasoned choice. Epictetus called this choice prohairesis, and it’s really important because it’s the only way we can be truly powerful in this world. Clinging to things we can’t control is kind of the opposite of that, and it neutralizes our reasoned choice.
Instead we have to welcome whatever destiny brings our way with joy and open arms. We must align our will with that of fate, and accept the twists and turns of life as they happen to us. Embrace change, and our reasoned choice is thus freed to operate at its full capacity.