When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.
|Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Seneca the Younger)|
The archer must know what he is seeking to hit; then he must aim and control the weapon by his skill. Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.
Chance must necessarily influence over our lives, for we live by chance.But it is the case with certain men, that they do not know that they know certain things. Just as we often search for that which is beside us, so too we are apt to forget that the Supreme Good lies near us.
Seneca begins his letter to his friend Lucillus with a caution:
[A] vast stretch of sea separates us. Since, the value of advice may depend on the time when it is given, it must necessarily result that by the time my opinion reaches you, the opposite opinion is the better.
The nature of the Supreme Good is not described by many words or long-winded discussions. It is pointed out by the forefinger and not parsed with endless dissection… The Supreme Good is that which is honorable.
The task ahead, Seneca proposes is to conquer our emotions.
I fully understand what this task is. It is a thing …I desire it with all my heart. I see that you also have been aroused and are hastening with great zeal towards infinite beauty.
Let us hasten; and only on these terms will life be a boon to us; otherwise, there is a delay … while we busy ourselves with revolting things.
Let us see to it that all time belongs to us. This, however, cannot be unless, first of all, we ourselves belong to us. … When will it be our privilege, after our passions have been subdued and brought under control, to utter the words "I have conquered!"?
Do you ask me who have I conquered? The answer is neither the Persians, nor far-off Medes, nor any warlike race beyond the Dahab (Sinai); not these. Rather greed, ambition, and fear of death have I conquered, that conquered the conquerors of the world.