The Enchiridion - Part 2

Expanding on part 1, Epictetus goes into some detail about why desiring things not in your control is a bad idea.

Remember that following desire promises the attainment of that which you are desirous; and aversion promises the avoiding that to which you are averse. However, he who fails to obtain the object of his desire is disappointed, and he who incurs the object of his aversion wretched. If, then, you confine your aversion to those objects only which are contrary to the natural use of your faculties, which you have in your own control, you will never incur anything to which you are averse.

If you do not control the thing you desire, you are placing the control of your disappointment in the hands of someone else, which means you cannot lessen it.

The talk of aversion is a little strange, but luckily the next paragraph clears things up.

But if you are averse to sickness, or death, or povety, you will be wretched. Remove aversion, then, from all things that are not in our control, and transfer it to things contrary to nature what are in our power.

The concept of nature comes up a lot in Epictetus' work. It is his way of saying "what is good", more or less. So this paragraph is saying, basically: rather than worry about sickness and death, which you cannot change, put your effort into something worthwhile that you control. That is, to self improvement.

But, for the present, totally suppress desire: for, if you desire any of the things which are not in your own control, you must necessarily be disappointed; and of those which are, and which it would be laudable to desire, nothing is yet in your posession. Use only the appropriate actions of persuit and avoidance; and even these lightly, and with gentleness and reservation.

This is again some practical advice: you're just starting out, you don't really hava good grasp of what the proper goals are to persue. So avoid trying to acheive anything yet, and be careful and slow about trying to change your life.

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