Vatican Saying 14

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This saying elaborates (to speak anachronistically) on carpe diem. It is found in both Stobaeus and Plutarch.

By way of rhetorical preface, Epicurus (the presumed author) demarcates human life by a few hard facts: we are born only once; it is impossible for any one of us to be born twice; after we die, we cease to exist; that non-existence stretches out into perpetuity. This much is universal and undeniable, and is posited as such.

Turning sharply to his imaginary interlocutor, Epicurus casts a scathing accusation, based partly on the facts above, partly on our own poor judgement: while we are not "masters of tomorrow", and therefore have no definite way of knowing what it will bring, we nevertheless postpone any opportunity we might have to experience joy. We waste the present, which is essentially the only time we have, by placing uncertain bets on some future we do not control.

The outcome of this behavioral pattern is dire: day by day, our life is wasted on chronic postponement of joy, and the pathetic ending of it finds us just as frantically busy as we have been all along. Immersed as we are in our worldly cares and concerns, we neglect to enjoy the unique, relatively brief lifetime we have at our disposal.

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