“Let’s pass over to the really rich — how often the occasions they look just like the poor! When they travel abroad they must restrict their baggage, and when haste is necessary, they dismiss their entourage. And those who are in the army, how few of their possessions they get to keep…” — Seneca, On Consolation To Helvia, 12.1.b-2
Fortune and fame — the two things we all are trying to run toward and yet, the two things feel perpetually evasive to most. Fame is the deceitful devil that only reveals its true treacherous nature once we actually hold it in our hands. Money, on the other hand, is not the devil nor is it a trickster. Money is the fuel that enables us to do things. But we mistake it for medicine or magic. We tend to think that simply having more money will magically solve all our problems. If money was the magic pill to solve everything, then why did Buddha leave it all behind. What was he searching for? Why are monks with almost no possessions happier than millionaires living in New York’s skyscrapers? The Stoics remind us that no amount of things we could buy with money will solve the issues that we are facing internally. Unhappy people would still remain unhappy even if they win the lottery. So many people keep running after money all their lives only to become an unhappy and unfulfilled 50-year old. Seneca reminds us to be wary of the promises of money. The real cause of most of our issues is internal, not external. And the people who understand this early in their lives are truly the lucky ones.
This article is a part of my Stoic Musings challenge, inspired by the book “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, where I take a quote from the book and reflect on it, every day.