When I turn to Epictetus

I probably read Epictetus’s Enchiridion a few times a year. It’s not something I plan or schedule at all.

I read Epictetus when something is wrong. When I’m grieving, or when someone I care about is grieving. When a friendship I care about is in a stormy place. When I’m stressed out. When I’m worried about the future. Or just when things feel off, even if I can’t point to a reason for it.

When I read Epictetus, I have a glimpse of a bigger, grander, more beautiful truth of which I’m a small part. It feels like lightness, freedom, joy, peace.

A shot of that experience at the right moment can reorient me, redirect me, give me a centre and a ground.

Whenever I read Epictetus, I think to myself that I ought to be reading him all year long, memorizing and internalizing every treasure that fell from his great mind.

And I think that’s true. I think I’m right to say so to myself in those moments. But I haven’t yet followed through.

For now, Epictetus is a comfort who arrives in my dark moments to share his brilliance. For now, even that is an indescribable gift. But one day, I hope, he will be an even closer companion. I think that such closeness is going to be a necessary part of the path to becoming the person I want to be.

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