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Build A Life You Aren’t Trying To Flee

Daily Stoic Emails

Of course, it’s lovely to take a vacation. It’s lovely to go to cool places. Even on the weekend, it’s lovely to go places and do things we can’t do during the week.

But Seneca tells us to be careful. He quotes Lucretius who said, “Thus each man flees himself,” then elaborates, “But to what end if he does not escape himself? He pursues and dogs himself as his own most tedious companion. And so we must realize that our difficulty is not the fault of the places but of ourselves.”

We all seem to be traveling from destination to destination, even when we arrive at our destination. At lunch on vacation, we talk about making plans for dinner. At one tourist attraction, we are excited for the next one. On the beach, we look forward to the pool. And in the pool, we look forward to tomorrow’s day at the beach. We, Seneca writes, “make one journey after another and change spectacle for spectacle.”

Be wary of the urge to be constantly on the move. As the Stoics would say, you will not find what you think you are looking for—happiness, joy, serenity, peace, fulfillment—in externals. Or in any external location at all. You can only find it internally. Because you can’t flee yourself. You have to build a life, a self, you don’t want to escape from.