Letters from a Motherfucking Stoic: How to be Motherfucking Stoic When Everybody Fucking Dies

Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic is a collection of letters about morality from Roman philosopher and senator Seneca (c. 4 BC – AD65) to his friend Lucilius. Stoic philosophy holds that our inner life matters more than outward circumstances, and that we ought to seek wisdom, justice, and virtue while practicing moderation, discipline, and self-control – and that to do so would make one “self-sufficient, immune to suffering, superior to the wounds and upsets of life.” Which, for a school of Hellenistic philosophy, sounds really fucking useful right now, right?

If you’ve ever been interested in reading books about stoicism, developing a more stoic personality, or just learning how to practice stoicism in general – or just found yourself taken in by occasional stoic philosophy quotes and wondered, “Just WTF, ancient Rome?” – consider this a goddamn motherfucking introduction. Or if you’re just like, WTF GRIEF WHY IS THERE SO MUCH OF YOU? The Stoics thought about that a whole fucking lot.

We’ve adapted several of Seneca’s letters into modern vernacular, R-rated English. Did we translate this from the original Latin? Fucking no. Why did we do this? Why the fuck not, motherfucker, we want you to read this shit.

by Jennifer Dziura

 

How to be Motherfucking Stoic When Everybody Fucking Dies

Hey, I’m sorry your friend Flaccus died. He was a real cool bro. But you shouldn’t grieve too goddamn much over it.

I mean, I’d like to recommend that you don’t grieve at all. Maybe that’s not realistic, but it really is better that way. Who’s that stoic, though? Even a real badass motherfucking stoic still feels a twinge when someone dies. But just a twinge, man.

We can forgive ourselves for crying, as long as we’re in control of it. There’s a middle way between not crying at all, and fucking weeping and wailing. Most people who are just weeping and wailing everywhere are showing off their grief. They want to prove to us that they’re really fucking sad. We get it. Nobody grieves like that just for themselves.

You might ask, “Am I really just supposed to forget my dead friend, you asshole?” No, asshole. I’m saying that people who grieve don’t really grieve for that long. And if your way of remembering is grieving, then you’re not going to remember for very long, either. Pretty soon, you’ll smile at some jokes or puppies or shit. As soon as you let in the outside world, your grief starts to fade.

Instead, let’s think of the good times we had with our friends. I mean, if every time you think about Flaccus it causes you pain, how often are you gonna think about him? My teacher Attalus used to say that remembering good times with our dead friends is like enjoying fruits that are a little bitter, but in a good way, or wine that’s kind of stanky but has its own stanky charms. But then you just wait, and eventually you can remember the good times without the bitterness or the stankiness.

I disagree, but that’s just me. Thinking of my long-gone friends is sort of sweet and chill for me. Why? Because I’m a goddamn stoic. Even when I was with my friends, I felt loss, knowing they would someday die. Now that they’re dead, I feel that I still have them with me. Stoicism, bitch.

So stop bitching that life isn’t fair. Yeah, fortune took away your friend. But fortune also gave you that motherfucking friend in the first place. So let’s get out there and enjoy the friends we still have, because who knows how much longer we’ll have them with us? How many times have you gone on a trip you could’ve invited a friend on, or gone to a friend’s town but didn’t go see them? Get on it, douchebag.

Can you even fucking stand people who treat their friends like shit, but then when their friend dies, they put on the biggest fucking show of mourning? Like they don’t even care about anyone unless they’re dead. Don’t do that shit.

Yeah, fortune took your friend from you, but you have other friends to help you through this, right? So your life isn’t so fucking bad after all. If you don’t have any other friends to help you through this, don’t blame fortune. Fortune took Flaccus, but you’re the one who took from yourself every other fucking friend you could have made but didn’t. Imagine a dude with only one shirt, and someone steals it. Bummer, right? But you kind of expect that, instead of crying about his shirt, he should go look for a new shirt ASAP. Go get a new friend! Flaccus would have wanted you to make friends.

Alright, and maybe this part is a little cliche, but all grief fades in time. You don’t want to still be publicly mourning when you don’t even feel it anymore. It’s kind of gross to stop grieving because you just got tired of it, so instead just cut it the fuck out right now. On purpose.

Keep in mind that when my best friend Annaeus Serenus died, I wept like a fucking baby. But still, I condemn my past behavior. I was fucking kicked in the nuts by Annaeus Serenus’ death because the dude was younger than me – a lot younger than me – so I didn’t think he would die before me. But hey, it’s not like fate gives a shit about that. Anyone can die at any time. That’s just fucking reality. I should’ve been prepared. The stoic thing to do would be to say, “Sure, my friend is all young and healthy and shit, but enjoy your time together while realizing you could lose this at any time.” Then I wouldn’t have been so fucked up by Annaeus Serenus’ death. RIP, man. RIP.

Now, I always take into consideration that everything dies, and there are no rules for that shit. If you can die in forty years, you can die today. Maybe we’ll die soon ourselves. Maybe there’s an afterlife where Flaccus and Annaeus Serenus are chilling, waiting around for us. Maybe not.

Peace out, stay stoic.

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Update: Hear a dramatic reading of the post!

 

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Hey bitches, that was some fucking Seneca, more or less, on grief vs mourning. Want more stoicism? Here’s the goddamn book. Peace comes from within, y’all. And make sure you read the other installments in Letters from a Motherfucking Stoic.

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