You have to love Seneca, he always provides profound guidance, which I have so thankfully been accustomed to receiving over the past year or so. To me this is pretty straight forward. For you or me to have time to think or even to relax we need to be either a poor man, or resemble a poor man. He goes on to say that “study cannot be helpful unless you take pains to live simply”. So to be a great scholar maybe you need both the luxury of time and a life that is not too complex, so as not to compete with your studies.
Finally he states and “living simply is voluntary poverty”. Now mind you Seneca was not poor, but I think he could see that the pursuit of wealth was not healthy to obtaining the state of mind needed to relax the mind if you will. Just like the rest of us we often know the path, teach the path, but struggle to follow it ourselves.
Let you life be simple today, do what you must to earn a living, but keep a bit in reserve for you studies.
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It seems like this time of year we decide that we need to celebrate Christmas with copious consumption, mainly gifts for family and friends. It is all very well intentioned, and the retailers count on you going a little crazy and racking up those credit card bills. I live in a very large city that has more than its share of poor and homeless people, and I wonder if I need to be part of this attempt to shift wealth from myself to Amazon, Walmart, Target, Kohls, or Best Buy. I guess it does make me feel better for a moment or two to see the gift recipient pleased with whatever it was that I bought them, but only for a fleeting moment as I then create more garbage from all the gift wrapping paper and boxes. It’s not that I don’t like the holiday season, but I’m beginning to be less enthralled about this compulsion to participate in buying things for people who already have so much. It all seems to be expected, and pretty much an annual ritual, we are really no more introspective than the Geese that migrate south every year.
As I was looking out the window on the 11th floor of the office building where I work, I noticed a man walking across the field very slowly pretty much headed nowhere. He had an old hooded sweatshirt on and I couldn’t tell if he was young or old, but he was fairly thin. Maybe he was homeless, maybe not, maybe he was unemployed, but in either case he seemed in no hurry to go anywhere. With so much poverty around me I am beginning to question this need to buy things for people who don’t need them.
I’m not advocating you don’t celebrate the holidays or participate in giving out gifts to friends or family, but maybe we can take some portion of that money and help someone less fortunate. If you want to feel a real sense of giving, take some of that money and give it to someone who really needs it. You have a roof over your head, a warm place to sleep, a source of income, enough food, then count yourself a lucky person.
Here is a related quote:
You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you. -John Wooden
Look around you and take a few minutes to find a way you can share your good fortune with others. I’m sure the folks at Amazon or Walmart will survive with a few less dollars.