Letters from a Motherfucking Stoic: I Got Sick on a Motherfucking Boat – But You, My Friend, Are Sick in Your Goddamn Mind

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.

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


I Got Sick on a Motherfucking Boat – But You, My Friend, Are Sick in Your Goddamn Mind

Apparently I’ll agree to motherfucking anything, based on the fact that I recently agreed to try and fucking go somewhere on a stupid-ass motherfucking boat.

The sea was perfectly fucking calm when we left, and it was just a short trip, so I didn’t think the stupid fucking storm clouds would turn into some kind of big fucking problem. I guess it’s safer to sail near the shore, but I wanted to keep this shit short, so I just headed straight across the water.

And sure enough, when we had gotten halfway – so what’s the fucking point of turning back – the waves got all choppy and shit and I was getting real fucked up, so I asked the helmsman to take me to shore, any shore. He said the coastline was all rocky and shit and it wasn’t safe, but at that point I was so seasick that I didn’t fucking care. I demanded that that dude PARK THE FUCKING BOAT. Fuck that guy.

When we got close, I jumped into the cold water, because that’s what a motherfucking stoic fucking does. Then I crawled up on the rocks. Then I suffered. And suffered more!

Remember the fucking Odyssey? Yeah, I think I know why Odysseus took 20 fucking years to go from one stupid Greek island to another fucking stupid Greek island. Greece is not that big. It’s because the dude was fucking seasick all the time, and crashed himself into all kinds of fucking stupid places just to get off the fucking ocean.

I rested awhile and rubbed oil all over my whole body because I’m a motherfucking Roman and that’s how we do our shit. And then I started thinking about how easily we forget how fucking weak we are.

Like, sometimes your feet hurt, and you say, oh, I must have twisted my ankle. And then it gets worse, and you kind of know what it is, but you deny it, even to yourself. And then when your feet are TOTALLY FUCKED, only then do you admit you’ve got the motherfucking gout, bitch.

That’s how we treat our motherfucking health. When you’re a little bit sick, you ignore it. Only when it gets bad do you finally deal with that shit.

The even more fucked-up thing about people is that, with the spirit, it’s completely the opposite. The more fucked up you are, the less you even realize it. Think about when you’re barely asleep. You’re like, “Hey, this is an awesome dream, let me stay in this warm-ass bed and keep having this dream.” But when you’re really fucking asleep, you don’t know you’re asleep.

People don’t admit they’re fucked up because they’re too deep into how fucked up they are.

You can only tell people about your dreams when you wake up. And you can only admit how fucked up you are when you wake the fuck up from how fucked up you are.


And there’s only one thing that can wake you the fuck up. You know what that it? Motherfucking wisdom, man. Motherfucking wisdom.

You have other shit to do? Fuck that. Fuck you.

Wisdom is your new goddamn job. You got nothing else to do, asshole. Somebody wants you to do something else? Fuck that. You’re awake now. Say no. You can’t just try to get wisdom when you’ve got some free fucking time. You gotta go 100%.

Look, now that you’re awake, you’re wisdom’s bitch. You don’t tell wisdom when you’ve got some time. Wisdom demands all your time and then fucking tells you when you’ve got a few minutes left over for your other stupid shit.

Get all the other stupid crap out of your brain and just do one fucking thing for fucking once. And that thing is wisdom. Work on it. Do this constantly, and you’ll start to notice a BIG FUCKING DIFFERENCE between you and other people. You’ll end up way the fuck ahead of them – and not that fucking far behind the actual fucking gods!

What’s the difference between you and the gods, anyway? Well, the gods will fucking last longer, haha. But here’s one thing where you can be better than the gods. The gods fear nothing because they’re motherfucking gods. That’s nice, but it doesn’t exactly require a lot of effort. Of course a fucking god isn’t fucking afraid of much.

But you! You, my friend. If you’re afraid of nothing, that’s all you. That’s you working on your fucking self. That’s you, with all the weaknesses of a human, achieving the fearlessness of a god.

That’s dope, bitch. That’s wisdom.


Update: Hear a dramatic reading of the post!



Hey fuckers, that was some fucking Seneca, more or less. Are we working on our fucking selves yet? Does peace come from within? Have we found meaning yet? Want more stoicism? Here’s the goddamn book. And make sure you read the other installments in Letters from a Motherfucking Stoic.

New to Bullish? We write about careers and business from a feminist perspective, and also about making the workplace and the world better. Founder Jen Dziura was once a philosophy major, if you’re wondering about the weirdness you just read. Sign up below for more! And check out our online store.

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