I am quite convinced, my dear Stoic souls, that I am not just improving, but transforming. There are still many parts of me that need changing, of course, correcting even, and yet, this, even this fact that I am now writing to you to say this, even the fact that I am aware of it, of myself, isn’t that already proof that my spirit has lifted, that my thoughts and behaviours have altered, and that I have become better?
It’s been two months since I last wrote to you and in that time I have made so much progress every day, you can’t imagine. This is one of the reasons I’m writing now because I’d like to share this metamorphosis of mine with you. It’s really important that I do this, share this learning, this knowledge, because this is the sort of thing that transforms friends into friendships.
And we all have hundreds of friends, online and off, but friendships? They are less common. This is what Seneca’s writing about to Lucilius in Letter VI. Sharing knowledge, sharing progress, this is what makes a friendship. Why? Because the very act of sharing shows us that we have so much in common. Our daily trials and troubles, we all share them. And it’s our commitment to share with each other and to see ourselves in one another that forges friendships.
This summer, I want to share with you readings and writings and learnings from Seneca. And, I’ll share with you specific passages, I’ll highlight them for you, I’ll quote them for you, I’ll annotate them for you. And I’ll do this for both our spiritual development, but also our creative development, for we are all writing and we are all writers in some professional or personal capacity. And we live and write to learn and understand the world and our place within it, but also to commune. There is so much more pleasure and potential to be had in sharing this knowledge, these remedies for living happily, creatively even.
But it will do you no good if you just receive my letters and simply read them in your own quiet solitude. You really need to get to the heart of the action, you really need to act and respond, meet and talk face-to-face, or come visit me in the Scene. You really need to see and experience others. Nothing will come of this sort of study if you don’t make direct contact. This is what Seneca is telling Lucilius. Cleanthes, he writes, would never have become like Zeno had he merely listened to his teacher. No, Cleanthes made Zeno a part of his life. This, Seneca claims, is the way because humans believe their eyes more than their ears and that learning by precepts is the long way around. Similarly, Plato and Aristotle learnt more from Socrates’ character than his words.
So, let’s engage with each other, and let’s go out into the world and seek others who are also motivated by similar desires to live good and creative lives. Let’s receive knowledge, but also give knowledge; we can learn from each other.
Do reply here and let me know your thoughts or come and visit me in the Scene.
Farewell for now.