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Keep Doing This—You'll Always Need It

Daily Stoic Emails

You’ve been reading for years now. You’ve been studying your Stoicism. You’ve been keeping up with your morning journals, doing your evening review. 

So when does this all culminate and coalesce into wisdom? When are you good? Never. The answer is never. “Until when is a person obligated to study Torah?” Maimonides once asked, rhetorically. “Until the day of one’s death.”

So too with Stoicism. So too with the pursuit of knowledge. This is not a journey with a fixed endpoint. It goes on so long as you do; with each breath our obligation to continue our study and practice of courage, moderation, justice and wisdom remains. It must. Because there is always room to get better and improve, always someone and something to learn from.

There is a passage in Meditations, likely written by Marcus Aurelius in his fifties, more than a quarter-century into his study of philosophy, where he criticizes himself for the anxiety and fear he feels about death. You’re still struggling with this, he says, after all these years. Keep working at it, keep going. For Seneca, it was the same—he wanted to find one thing in his studies each day, one thing to make him better or kinder or calmer.

And so must you. It’s wonderful that you’ve been at this for as long as you have, but you have to keep going. Stay at it until the day of your death. You’ll need it.

P.S. This was originally sent on March 3, 2021. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism.