The Sword of Damocles

“Don’t behave as if you are destined to live forever. What’s fated hangs over you. As long as you live and while you can, become good now.”


Author Ryan Holiday gives us the example of the Sword of Damocles in explaining today’s quote in his book The Daily Stoic. This sword was hung over a throne in trying to make a point that death is coming for us all, perhaps sooner than we realize.

Your life could come to a sudden end at any point, without warning. There’s no guarantee that you’ll live a long and fruitful life — you might die tomorrow. Any of us could. However, as Holiday points out, that truth doesn’t have to be a cause for hand-wringing or fear, or living in constant trepidation.

Instead, we should use this realization as a motivation — to be good while we still can, to help others, to help our community. To grow into the person we know we should be, to fulfill our destiny. As if this were your last day on Earth.

Not tomorrow, not eventually. Tomorrow might not ever come for you, or for me. The metaphorical Sword of Damocles might fall upon our head before then. Start now! Be like a dying person, even if you’re not actually. Act as if today were your last day on Earth.

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