This article is part of the weekly Epictetus series. New articles will be published every Monday.
Let me start today with a comment you may be familiar with: Stoicism advocates living in accordance with Nature. Sounds familiar, right? The meaning of this phrase is very rich, and Epictetus highlights one aspect of it in paragraph 17 of the Enchiridion: we should play our part as it is given to us.
Remember that you are an actor in a play determined by the author: if short, then short; if long, then long. If he wants you to act as a beggar, then act even that with excellence, just as a cripple, a ruler or a citizen. Because that is your objective: to act the role that is given to you well. To select the role is up to someone else.
It is not up to us to determine the lenght of our life or the position we have in society. Health, lifespan, possession and status are not in our control. What is in our control is to act as well as we can in the situation we are in. If we happen to be a rich and wealthy CEO, then act as a CEO. If we happen to be a beggar, then make the best of it as well. Always make the best of what you have, and don’t beg for more. We are part of Nature and Nature determines our living conditions. And we? We make do with what we have.
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