“A soul which is well acquainted with virtue is like an ever-flowing source. It is pure, tranquil, potable, sweet and social. It is rich and harmless and free from mischief.” – Epictetus
Well acquainted, not in possession of. Because it is a lifelong journey, we will never be in possession of virtue, we will be constantly looking to get better. Forever.
But as we get closer to our goal, we start to see the benefits of all of the work we have been putting in. We could compare it to an investment account, once it reaches a certain point, it starts to earn more than we are putting in every month or year. It takes on a life of its own and starts to surprise us with benefits. The same is true of our hearts and minds as we constantly invest in working on making them better. When they get closer to our goal, they start to surprise us by making the behaviors and actions we are looking for second nature.
If, for example, we are working on speaking less and listening more we might find ourselves in conversation one day not having to remind ourselves to listen and we may just catch ourselves really hearing everything someone has to say.
Similarly, if our goal is to control how we respond to a situation we will find ourselves not having to remind ourselves that how we respond is the only thing we control when something goes wrong in our lives. When this happens we might just find that we are able to stay calm, assess the situation and deal with a problem without allowing it to upset us; all without having to put in the effort to control our emotions.
So we will stay on the path and we will start to notice that the more we work on these things, the easier and more natural they become.
virtus fortis vocat