Put It Into Your Own Words

“For it’s disgraceful for an old person, or one in sight of old age, to have only the knowledge carried in their notebooks. Zeno said this… what do you say? Cleanthes said that… what do you say? How long will you be compelled by the claims of another? Take charge and stake your own claim — something posterity will carry in its notebook.”


In today’s entry, the author of The Daily Stoic uses the quote above by Seneca to highlight that it’s not enough to simply rely on the quotes of luminaries and giants to guide us — because that’s too easy. We need to start putting out our own wisdom, using our own words, and showing what we’ve learned. We need to take that leap and combine everything we’ve absorbed and synthesize new thoughts. In so doing, we will lock in our knowledge and solidify our understanding of our truth.

I think this applies to me too, and how I write this blog. I think I’ve fallen into a pattern of merely rephrasing Holiday’s thoughts for each day’s chapter, and instead I need to go back to what I was doing originally — adding my own personal perspective and reflections on what I’ve read.

It’s daunting to think of putting down my own thoughts (as though anyone would want to read those!), but that’s what sets a website apart from the others. No one wants to read a re-hash of some other author’s writings — it will be obvious, and it won’t be interesting. I have to be brave, and put myself out there, and write down what I personally am learning. That’s how I can differentiate.

It’s easy to think: “Who am I, that anyone would care what I think?” and “Who am I to suppose that I have any words to share, any wisdom to write down?”

But we all have to start somewhere, and all the great thinkers of bygone eras were nobodies until they took the leap of faith to write down what they were feeling and thinking. As Holiday points out, “your own experiences have value,” and we have to believe that, and believe that they’re worth crystallizing into our own words — for our own benefit, and to the benefit of others who come after us.

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