Monday, July 23, 2012

Letters to a young man 18

Greetings, my young friend. Our correspondence has been sparse, yet it has been fulfilling. Though there seems little more I can advise you on, the urge to write remains and if on occasion I give you unsolicited advice, I hope you will pardon its arrival, and pause a moment to consider it.

You don't need these letters, certainly. You don't need books, or advice from blogs. I realize that, and I think deep down you do as well. If anything, these letters, books you may buy, and websites you may visit all help to funnel your attention inward, until you find the thing you're most looking for. Unfortunately, they can also serve as a distraction. Like most men, no sooner have you attained what you seek that it slips away, to be replaced by some other thing you search for. This other thing is but another likeness of the underlying thing you seek.

Deep down, within you, all you've ever searched and hope for resides. It doesn't matter how many times I tell you this, until you find it and realize it, these will just be words. Helpful words, perhaps. Yet you must steel your mind against the temptation to put down what you find within in order to pick something else up. This takes time, and practice, and discipline. It won't be easy. It will be damned frustrating. Yet, what else is there to do? Could there be an endeavor more worthy of your time and attention? I think not.

The greatest achievement you may attain is leaving your needs for external things on the side of the road, behind you. How much more one enjoys things when not bound to them in the slavery of need! How much more one suffices on the simple and plain pleasures of life! Those things that most men rush past on the way towards folly, may you appreciate, treasure and cultivate!

Always remember: Down one road lies excuses, failure, and regret. Down the other lies hard work, success, and a bright future.

Farewell for now.

My book on stoicism.