Have you ever noticed that you life is like a movie or play? We are all actors on a stage...and just like a professional actor, has to learn how to focus entirely on their own performance, we too must focus on our own performance and learn to let go of the rest. We can’t control where we were born or who our parents are, or what color our skin is. We can’t control how other people treat us.
You can only control what you do with the cards you are dealt in life.
You may have noticed that some professional actors, who are very successful, sometimes go on to become producers and directors, once they have done well in their given roles.
You too can go on to control more and more of your life, once you have mastered the roles that you have been thrown at by life.
Yes, alot of things are out of our control. But we have a lot more agency than some people think. We can, through determination and skill, learn how to shape our own destiny. Can we control life? No. But we can shape it through our thoughts and actions.
Epictetus has an interesting metaphor that explains the unique way the Stoics understood free will:
“Keep in mind that you are an actor in a play that is just the way the producer wants it to be. It is short, if that is his wish, or long, if he wants it long. If he wants you to act the part of a beggar, see that you play it skillfully, and similarly, if the part is to be a cripple, or an official, or a private person. Your job is to put on a splendid performance of the role you have been given.”