The banquet of life

Category: [On Life]


2min read

Epictetus once compared life to a banquet - the banquet of life - and reminded us that how we conduct ourselves at a banquet should be how we conduct ourselves in life.

Remember to conduct yourself in life as if at a banquet. As something being passed around comes to you, reach out your hand and take a moderate helping. Does it pass you by? Don’t stop it. It hasn’t yet come? Don’t burn in desire for it, but wait until it arrives in front of you. Act this way with children, a spouse, toward position, with wealth—one day it will make you worthy of a banquet with the gods.

As good food and drinks are being passed around, don’t be too eager for them, or even snatch them from someone else. Be patient and graceful. We don’t have to anxiously sought them out - we also don’t have to pretentiously reject them to look good. By all the means, enjoy the good food, and savor the moment. It’s what the banquet of life has come to offer to you, after your long wait.

Likewise, when not-so-tasty food and drinks come along, take them in stride. They may taste unpleasant, but at least they are a new experience. Like a good guest, we won’t complain about the unpleasant food. We simply wait for the next dish to arrive.

As the pleasant food leaves you, don’t hope that it lingers, or try to grab more onto your plate out of greed. Be grateful that you had a taste of it, and commit its taste to your memory.

Likewise, as the unpleasant food leaves you, don’t rejoice out loud. Instead, be appreciative that it’s now going away, and take a moment to prepare for the next dish.

Every chapter in our lives is like a dish in this banquet. Regardless whether it’s a good chapter or a bad chapter, a good dish or a bad dish - always try to be patient and be genuine. Always try to be respectful and be grateful. Always try to be appreciative and be prepared.