From Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations book four:
…recall one by one each of your own acquaintances; how one buried another, only to be laid low himself and buried in turn by a third, and all in so brief a space of time. Observe, in short, how transient and trivial is all mortal life; yesterday a drop of semen, tomorrow a handful of spice or ashes. Spend, therefore, these fleeting moments on earth as Nature would have you spend them, and then go to your rest with a good grace, as an olive falls in its season, with a blessing for the earth that bore it and a thanksgiving to the tree that gave it life.
This quote to me is so powerful. It doesn’t matter what you’ve accomplished, eventually it will be forgotten. In a billion year (a speck in time) it will be forgotten. As George Harrison says “all things must pass.”
Our only purpose then on earth is to live in accordance with Nature.
Think then for yourself what you believe Nature has intended for you and do it service as best you can.
For me (and many other Stoics) that means being just, dutiful, truthful, magnanimous, judicious, independent, and discreet.
I will still have fun and go after mountainous goals but I know it to be trivial in the grand scheme of things. The benefit derived from that is nothing compared to living in accordance with nature, accepting my allotted part in the universe, and then going to rest with good grace, fertilizing the earth, blessing the one that gave me life.
This also reminds me to have no fear of risk, as what am I risking but a chance to test my character or the possibility to bless the one that gave me life.
To know the shortness and triviality of life is amazing.