October 20

THE great point is to leave to each thing its own proper faculty, and then to see what the value of that faculty is, and to learn what is the principal thing; and upon every occasion, to follow that and to make it the chief object of our attention; to consider other things as trifling in comparison of this; and yet, as far as we are able, not to neglect even these. We ought, for instance, to take care of our eyes; but not as of the principal thing, but only on account of the principal; because that will no otherwise preserve its own nature, than by making a due estimation of the rest, and preferring some to others. What is the usual practice, then? That of a traveller, who, returning into his own country, and meeting on the road with a good inn, being pleased with the inn, should remain at the inn. Have you forgot your intention, man? You were not travelling to this place, but only through it. "But this a fine place." And how many other fine inns are there, and how many pleasant fields? But only to be passed through in your way. The business is, to return to your country, to relieve the anxieties of your family, to perform the duties of a citizen, to marry, have children, and go through the public offices. For you did not set out to choose the finest places, but to return to live in that where you were born, and of which you are appointed a citizen.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §23. ¶3.


  1. This is all about putting First things First. So the question is what is the 'First' first thing. I.e. Where are we going?

  2. When you don't know what your destination is you can definitely get distracted by the inns. Guess the mission is to find out or remember what our destination was and keep that in mind while we are on our journey.

  3. Don't lose sight of the point of your life. It isn't to experience pleasure, nor to acquire wealth, nor to gather fame. These, if they fall into your hands at all, are merely tools. The point is to serve each other, virtuously, and thus fulfill the promise of our individual natures. By giving other things priority, we not only cheat humanity of our strength and support, but we betray the unique person we could become, and trade it for a few shiny baubles. - Inspired by Epictetus.