A Short Meditation on Impermanence

Life is transformation

Welcome to The Stoa Letter, the newsletter on Stoic theory and practice.

Every week we share two emails to help you build resilience and virtue with ancient philosophy. Each email includes one meditation on Stoic theory, one action to do in order to become more Stoic, and links to the best resources weโ€™ve found.

๐Ÿ›๏ธ Theory

The ancients remind us that the world is impermanent.

This is one of the most difficult lessons to internalize.

Many of us, consciously or not, seek eternal things. We want good things to last and last โ€“ and are surprised when they donโ€™t.

On some level, we believe that everything is ephemeral, but do not know it. Many of us understand these ideas in the abstract but havenโ€™t fully applied them to our own lives.

The story of nature is a story of change. Communities, civilizations, and species come and go. Our lives are a microcosm of that transformation. People, careers, and places arrive and exit.

In this world, what can we cling to?

Perhaps the answer lies in the familiar: art, relationships, family, community. These are the materials of virtue.

Even though they are impermanent, these things mean the world. After all, what is the world, but a collection of impermanent things?

The Stoics taught us to see each of these things as finite.

When we do so, we can love them as they are.

๐ŸŽฏ Action

Pause and reflect on the impermanence of things around you. Then turn to what matters.

๐Ÿ”— Links

๐Ÿ’ฌ One of my favorite Stoic lines on impermanence comes from Marcus Aurelius:

The universe is transformation, life is opinion.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 4.3

It contains the idea that life is flux โ€“ย and that what matters is how we respond to it.

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿซ I will be running a free workshop on How to Think like a Stoic this December. Register here.

๐Ÿ›๏ธย Is Gladiator a Stoic movie?

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