A Senecan Praemeditatio
[The wise] will start each day with the thought….
Fortune gives us nothing which we can really own.
Nothing, whether public or private, is stable; the destinies of men, no less than those of cities are in a whirl.
Whatever structure has been reared by a long sequence of years, at the cost of great toil, and through the great kindness of the gods, is scattered and dispersed in a single day. No, he who has said ‘a day’ has granted too long a postponement to swift misfortune; an hour, an instant of time, suffices for the overthrow of empires.
How often have cities in Asia, how often in Achaia, been laid low by a single shock of earthquake? How many towns in Syria, how many in Macedonia, have been swallowed up? How often has this kind of devastation laid Cyprus in ruins?
We live in the middle of things which have all been destined to die. Mortal have you been born, to mortals have you given birth.
Reckon on everything, expect everything.
from The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton