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
My Motherfucking Asthma Again
I’d been feeling pretty good for a while and then out of fucking nowhere – Bam! I’m fucking sick again.
“What’s wrong, Seneca?” you might ask.
It’s a good question, because there’s not a single fucking illness I haven’t had. But there’s one motherfucking thing that won’t motherfucking leave me the fuck alone, and that is my goddamn motherfucking asthma.
I don’t even see the need to call it “asthma.” Calling it “I can’t fucking breathe, goddammit” is goddamn good enough.
It doesn’t last long. Less than an hour. I mean, how fucking long do you think a person could spend taking his LAST FUCKING BREATH over and over?
I’ve had all the illnesses, and this one is the fucking worst. With all the others, you’re just sick, but with this one it’s like you’re actually in the act of dying. For like an hour. Like a rehearsal for death. And then eventually death stops practicing and fucking kills you.
So you think I’m happy that I’m feeling a little better now? Well, that would be fucking illogical, like a guy getting his trial postponed and thinking he’s been set free. Not the same fucking thing.
But, as you know, I’m a motherfucking stoic. So when I’m having an asthma attack, I say to myself, “What the fuck, death? You’re coming at me? Are you? Are you? You fucking try it. I had my shot at you, too.”
What am I talking about? I’m talking about before I was even BORN. You know what death is? It’s just not existing. And I did that before I was even born, motherfucker. It didn’t hurt. Nothing bad happened. If being dead was terrible, then it would’ve also been terrible before you were born. But it was fucking FINE. It was nothing.
Want to know how to accept death? Imagine a motherfucking lamp. Do you really think it’s more fucked up when you put it out than before you lit it in the first place? If you do, you’re a fucking idiot.
We’re like the lamp. We get turned on, we get turned off. In the middle, we suffer. Get over it.
So who cares if we die? Death isn’t just what comes after life, it’s what came before. So what does it even matter whether you live and die or whether you were never born? Either way, at the end, you don’t even fucking exist.
At least that’s what I tell myself when I’m having another fucking asthma attack.
Look, I’m feeling a little better now. But I’m prepared to die. I don’t make plans more than a day in advance. The person you should admire is the person who has a fucking awesome life but still doesn’t mind dying. I mean, where’s the fucking virtue in leaving if you’re actually getting kicked out? Maybe I’m getting kicked out, but I’m getting kicked out like somebody who’s leaving on their own. I’ll walk right out that door, motherfucker.
Update: Hear a dramatic reading of the post!
Hey bitches, that was some fucking Seneca, more or less. Are we accepting death yet? Death is certain, life is not, imagine a motherfucking LAMP. Want more stoicism? Here’s the goddamn book. And make sure you read the other installments in Letters from a Motherfucking Stoic.
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