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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Oh the Good Life...

"No man has ever been so far advanced by Fortune that she did not threaten him as greatly as she had previously indulged him. Do not trust her seeming calm; in a moment the sea is moved to its depths. The very day the ships have made a brave show in the games, they are engulfed. 8 Reflect that a highwayman or an enemy may cut your throat; and, though he is not your master, every slave wields the power of life and death over you. Therefore I declare to you: he is lord of your life that scorns his own. Think of those who have perished through plots in their own home, slain either openly or by guile; you will that just as many have been killed by angry slaves as by angry kings. What matter, therefore, how powerful he be whom you fear, when every one possesses the power which inspires your fear? ...Why do you voluntarily deceive yourself and require to be told now for the first time what fate it is that you have long been labouring under? Take my word for it: since the day you were born you are being led thither. We must ponder this thought, and thoughts of the like nature, if we desire to be calm as we await that last hour, the fear of which makes all previous hours uneasy.
10 But I must end my letter. Let me share with you the saying which pleased me today. It, too, is culled from another man's Garden: c “Poverty brought into conformity with the law of nature, is great wealth.” Do you know what limits that law of nature ordains for us? Merely to avert hunger, thirst, and cold. In order to banish hunger and thirst, it is not necessary for you to pay court at the doors of the purse-proud, or to submit to the stern frown, or to the kindness that humiliates; nor is it necessary for you to scour the seas, or go campaigning; nature's needs are easily provided and ready to hand. 11 It is the superfluous things for which men sweat, – the superfluous things that wear our togas threadbare, that force us to grow old in camp, that dash us upon foreign shores. That which is enough is ready to our hands. He who has made a fair compact with poverty is rich. " - Seneca, Moral Letters to Lucilius, Book 1, IV: On the Terrors of Death

This was a rich reading this morning but the phrase that struck me the most is the last statement, "He who has made a fair compact with poverty is rich." Once again I am struck by the lie that we are sold by society, "the good life".  Our entertainment industry sells us this life, our advertising, our government, even our educational institutions are based on a foundation of preparing us for this "good life".  Our world is unbalanced by this constant striving that is not in Nature's balance.  Gone is the achievable goal of having enough, supporting our lives with enough food, shelter and comforts to sustain our life.  Instead the western world is made up of individuals trying to "better" themselves, striving to climb up the corporate ladder for more income, status in society, and commodities.

If we like Thoreau would focus on living closer to the Nature that we are part of, seeking to live in balance, to have "enough" without tipping the scales to excess, what would the impact be to the world around us? Would we have more of an ecological focus? Would the global community be battling global warming and the other environmental catastrophes that are beginning to rock our infrustructure?

Maybe it will take a number of people just saying "Enough!" to finally start to turn the tide?

I think that Enough is defined differently for everyone.  I am going to examine what is Enough and just what is superfluous in my own life.  I am going to continue to strive for the wealth that is found in the balance of an examined life that is well lived.