"Most of all, the work of nature is this: to make desire and impulse to act fit closely with what is appropriate and useful." Musonius
Nobody questions whether a tiger's actions are natural. It can quietly sleep all day long or suddenly attack to kill a deer. Everything that a tiger does is what it is supposed to do, no more no less. So, too, the deer. Whether it is able to outrun the tiger or gets captured and eaten, the deer acts in harmony with nature. Yet this is not always the case with human beings. In comparison with even wild beasts, we are the least natural.
The reason is quite simple: too often people erroneously attempt to control what is uncontrollable. They try to guess what someone else is thinking and what someone else is about to do. Not surprisingly, they would get it wrong. That is because everyone doesn't think exactly alike. Since all people have different past experiences, they also have different beliefs, preferences, and tendencies. On top of getting things wrong, people also worry about what someone else might think and do. When this happens, their minds are clouded by strong emotions and thus cannot see and evaluate accurately the true situation.
Furthermore, because of people's ability to imagine the future, they erroneously think they can accurately forecast the future. There are an infinite amount of factors and variables that affect the future. One cannot possibly account for them all to formulate the correct calculation. As such, people waste the present by trying to act according to the future. If they guess wrong -- and often they do guess wrong -- not only will they be in an unfavorable position in the future but also will waste even more time by complaining and wallowing in their own misery. And so they would worry twice as much, making a bad situation worse.
On the other hand, what is natural is our adventurous attempt to control what is truly controllable: our own thoughts and actions right at this present moment. Instead of focusing on what other people are thinking and doing, be most concerned about what you are thinking and what you are doing. Nobody can necessarily fault you if someone thinks poorly of you or tries to hurt you. Many of history's heroes are filled with unrighteous enemies who irrationally hate them and try to destroy them. However, people can indeed blame you for thinking mean and devious thoughts and behaving in an unkind or dishonest manner. In addition, nobody will necessarily fault you for being wrong about the future, but they can indeed blame you if you behave wrongly or irrationally at this present moment.
Therefore, if you treated everyone with fairness and promoted justice, for example, nothing that even the entire world does can deny what you did. What people do belongs to them. What you do belongs to yourself. Now would you rather own something that is filled with anger and selfishness, or do you want to own something that is filled with devotion and nobility?
If you only think about your own observations, understanding, and actions, you will always be right. You need not guess at what you just saw, learned, or did -- or even what you will see, learn, or do -- since you can read your mind, control your muscles, and pinpoint your exact ambition. Thus, when you follow your own path, you are in accordance with nature. When you try to walk in someone else's path, you think and act awkwardly and unskillfully, trying to predict what is essentially unpredictable. You would not be in accordance with nature because you are neither natural nor yourself.
You are as strong and powerful as a tiger. You are also social and gentle like a deer. You are well beyond a tiger or a deer -- you are Epictetus, my beloved son. No one can harm you since you have inner and outer strength, and no one can keep up with your momentum since you are keen and magnanimous. You are far away from dark souls not because you are perturbed by them, but quite the opposite, because you are well far ahead of them. You are in a place that is all your own -- although you now have invited others to come along, too, and to join you in a marvelous life adventure. Hold on to each other's hands firmly and rollick with boundless joy.
"Do not tell people what they should do when you do what you should not." Musonius