Enchiridion XIV


If you wish your children and your wife and your friends to live forever, you are foolish, for you wish things to be in your power which are not so, and what belongs to others to be your own. So likewise, if you wish your servant to be without fault, you are foolish, for you wish vice not to be vice but something else. But if you wish not to be disappointed in your desires, that is in your own power. Exercise, therefore, what is in your power. A man’s master is he who is able to confer or remove whatever that man seeks or shuns. Whoever then would be free, let him wish nothing, let him decline nothing, which depends on others; else he must necessarily be a slave.

Here is another master/slave admonition, one that runs towards accepting the fact that servants are not flawless but human beings with vices and flaws. It's odd, in a way, to run this together with the death of wives or children. We've seen that tendency throughout these early aphorisms: 'accept that a cup may be broken, or your wife could die.' 

This reminds, again, that these are meant to be thoroughgoing commitments. In small things and in the biggest things, accepting that you only control what you do is the path to freedom. Practicing the small things makes you capable of handling the big things when they arise, for -- as mentioned earlier -- it is habituation via small exercises that enables the soul to handle the great labors. 


J Melcher said...

I wish that my children, and even my wife, outlive me. I wish NOT to see them die; to arrange their funerals; to grieve their loss; to carry on alone.

I have some control over that. I can drink hemlock on a day and hour of my own choosing. I can, in my cowardice, shift all those unwanted burdens of emotion and administrative business onto my family instead. I can choose to be free, yes?

J Melcher said...

I hit "Publish" and only then realized I missed the rare opportunity to talk about fardels versus bare bodkins. DANG IT!