Seneca’s life is worth looking at for anyone who thinks they missed their shot, who thinks it might be “too late” for them. Because in his early twenties, just as his career as a lawyer was taking off, Seneca was struck with a terrible blow of tuberculosis. He was sent away by his doctors to Egypt, where he spent the next ten years recovering. Eventually, he returned to Rome, and though many would have suspected his window had closed, he quickly made a name for himself as a politician and a philosopher.
Then, just as his career was taking off, he was banished to Corisca on trumped up charges by jealous enemies. There he had to spend eight years, eight years of the prime of his life, on an island far away from home. Yet, he eventually returned to Rome, rebuilt and remade himself, and soon found himself one of the most powerful men in the world, advising the Emperor.
You might be sensing where this is going, but once again, at the height of his influence, he was forced to retire from Nero’s service, as the Emperor became increasingly unstable. Still, Seneca managed to re-dedicate himself to philosophy and publish some of his most brilliant works.
What Seneca’s life proves is something much more bluntly phrased in Gary Vaynerchuk’s viral video, “You’ve Got Fucking Time.” It might feel like you are too old, that things have not turned out like you planned, that you’ve been royally screwed by bad luck. And that may be so—but the fact remains that you still have time. You can still make something of this life. You can still be grateful for whatever—and how much ever—time you have left.
What if you had just woken up from a coma? What if you had just gotten exonerated and released from death row? What if you’d found out your cancer was in remission? Would you be thinking ‘I’m getting a late start’ or ‘woe is me?” Or would you be thinking, ‘I’m so lucky. This is the beginning of my new life’?
There is no too late, not as far as ordinary life goes; just get started. Or get back to work. That’s all we can do.
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