Here is some stuff I am reading and thinking about this weekend…
Book I’m Reading – On the Shortness of Life
This is one book that stays by my bedside. In this, Seneca, the Stoic philosopher and playwright, offers us an urgent reminder on the non-renewability of our most important resource: our time. It is a required reading for anyone who wishes to live to their full potential, and it is a manifesto on how to get back control of your life and live it to the fullest.
Here are a few passages from the book that serve as great reminders on, well, the shortness of life –
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.
People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.
The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.
The body’s needs are few: it wants to be free from cold, to banish hunger and thirst with nourishment; if we long for anything more we are exerting ourselves to serve our vices, not our needs.
And so there is no reason for you to think that any man has lived long because he has grey hairs or wrinkles, he has not lived long – he has existed long. For what if you should think that man had had a long voyage who had been caught by a fierce storm as soon as he left harbour, and, swept hither and thither by a succession of winds that raged from different quarters, had been driven in a circle around the same course? Not much voyaging did he have, but much tossing about.
All of around 100 pages, Seneca’s On the Shortness of Life is a small, magnificent book you must read.
Idea I’m Thinking – What We Leave Behind
I read a beautiful, new post from Prof. Scott Galloway titled What We Leave Behind, wherein he writes how the fastest path to a better life is regularly assessing what we leave behind, and that money or wealth are not as important parts of the equation of what we leave behind as we usually think about. Spending time with our children is.
Prof. Galloway writes –
Money is a vehicle for the transfer of time and work from one entity to another. So, if we spend less money on one thing, we can invest more time on another. Could we invest less in stuff, less in commuting, and more in relationships? I’ve been howling in the money storm for so long. Believing my worth to others was a function of the stuff I had, or didn’t have.
We proffer admiration, affection, and a sense of awe on people who aggregate wealth. But that affection is often misplaced, as wealth can lead to greed and lack of empathy. This is an opportunity to spend less on stuff, spend less time commuting, and reallocate that capital and time to our partners and children.
On my podcast, the Prof G Show, I interviewed philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris. I asked him for one piece of advice on how to be a better man. He offered that rather than trying to parent, cajole, discipline, or guide your children, your real purpose is just…to love them. My nine-year-old has been having a hard time with corona. I’m spending less time correcting, explaining, arguing, and more just loving…sitting in his room when he’s doing homework, engaging in conversation, and watching The Simpsons together. We’re on season 5, there’s 31.
And…we’ll get there.
This is such a refreshing thought. It reminds us to examine our lives way more often and with deeper reflection. We are building a legacy every day, whether or not we are intentional about it. As we move forward through these challenging times, let’s keep our hearts and minds fastened on that we will leave behind.
Thoughts I’m Meditating On
Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.
~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
There is a complicating factor that makes the handling of investment mistakes more difficult. This is the ego in each of us. None of us likes to admit to himself that he has been wrong. If we have made a mistake in buying a stock but can sell the stock at a small profit, we have somehow lost any sense of having been foolish. On the other hand, if we sell at a small loss we are quite unhappy about the whole matter. This reaction, while completely natural and normal, is probably one of the most dangerous in which we can indulge ourselves in the entire investment process. More money has probably been lost by investors holding a stock they really did not want until they could ‘at least come out even’ than from any other single reason. If to these actual losses are added the profits that might have been made through the proper reinvestment of these funds if such reinvestment had been made when the mistake was first realized, the cost of self-indulgence becomes truly tremendous.
~ Walter Schloss
Articles I’m Reading
- How Do You Value Stocks When Earnings Plummet to Zero? (Barry Ritholtz)
- Thread on FIRE – Financial Independence & Early Retirement (Stable Investor)
- Opportunities in Bear Markets (Nooresh)
- Amid the Coronavirus Crisis, a Regimen for Reëntry (New Yorker)
- A time of grief, a time for reaching out (Mint)
A Question for You
What things are you doing or working toward now that are helping to shape the legacy you want to leave behind?
That’s about it from me for today.
Have a great weekend. Stay safe.