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    Nothing Gold (and Nothing Bad) Can Stay

    Daily Stoic Emails

    Everything fades. Everything falls apart. It’s a fact of life. It’s entropy. Still, it catches us by surprise. We despair. We hope against hope. We question why. Johanna Söderberg’s lyrics in the song “Stay Gold” capture the feeling well:

    What if a hard work ends in despair?

    What if the road won’t take me there?

    Oh, I wish, for once

    We could stay gold

    What if to love and be loved is not enough?

    What if I fall and can’t bear to get up?

    Oh, I wish, for once

    We could stay gold

    We could stay gold

    The bittersweetness of that song was inspired by the famous Robert Frost poem, which you may remember from school:

    So dawn goes down to day. 

    Nothing gold can stay.

    Certainly that’s one way to look at it. We can be sad. We can lament. Or, perhaps we can flip it. The fact that the golden moments of life are fleeting also means that the dark moments are too. 

    As Marcus Aurelius would write in his own poetic prose:

    [We should] keep in mind how fast things pass by and gone—those that are now and those to come. Existence flows past us like a river…Nothing is stable not even what’s right here. So it would take an idiot to feel self-importance or distress. Or any indignation, either. As if the things that irritate us lasted.

    It would be nice if things stayed gold, sure, but wouldn’t that diminish its preciousness? Just is there is no cold without hot, there is no gold without dark.  The true beauty and justice of the idea that this too shall pass is that with the passage of darkness inevitably comes light. For however long we get to enjoy it. But who’s counting the minutes? We surely shouldn’t, because then we’re wasting all of that precious time that is flowing past us.  Indeed, it’s all in flux. None of it is stable. None of it will last.

    And that’s wonderful.

    P.S. This was originally sent on November 16, 2019. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism.