For many men, the acquisition of wealth does not end their troubles, it only changes them. – Seneca
What does that mean?
This is a meta-quote, with Seneca quoting Epicurus : “The acquisition of riches has been for many men, not an end, but a change, of troubles.”
In the quote, he is talking about becoming wealthy, and getting a big house. Now you need furniture, and possibly staff. Constructing, hiring, buying, coordinating, whatever is needed.
Wealth doesn’t stop you from having troubles. That said, I’d rather have to deal with finding drapes to match the couch than struggle to figure out what was for dinner.
Whatever our lot in life is, no matter how low or how high, there will be troubles. Once you are fed, sheltered and generally happy, be careful how much more you pursue.
Why is being realistic important?
The important thing, to me, is to be realistic about what will come with any size chunk of money. You got enough money for a fancy car. Do you also have the money for the cost of insuring it? What about storing it safely, so it isn’t damaged or stolen? Are you seeing new troubles already?
What about building a great big house? Can you afford insurance? Can you afford all the new furniture? What about the paintings and other works of art? Are you going to need someone to find the children when it’s time to eat, so you don’t get lost in one of the wings or a basement?
Yes, that is a little silly, but I hope you get the point. Even something as inexpensive as a new watch can lead to problems. Should it be gold, silver, black, or some other color? How big should it be? What about the band? And will it clash with anything you presently own? See how it goes?
Trouble, just more trouble. The quality of your trouble will change with the amount of money you have. But trouble cannot be banished for any amount of cash. And if you have too much, con-men and thieves may be headed your way. Trouble, just more trouble. A different trouble, but trouble just the same.
Where can I apply this in my life?
This is something which only applies when you get some extra money. That probably never happens to you, but you never know. Do you know anyone who ever got some extra money, and then made a mess of things? Even if they didn’t, did their problems go away, or did they end up with different troubles?
After I graduated from college, I got a donation of a chair for furnishing my first apartment from my aunt. They got some money and wanted to replace it, so I got it. But the chair she got to replace it didn’t match the rest of the furniture. So out went the old and in went the new. Now the carpet looked funny. Then the walls needed to be painted.
That bit of extra money did solve the problem of the ugly green chair. But it created more trouble. They didn’t anticipate it, but they ended up a whole series of problems, one coming from the next. Yes, they had the money, but things didn’t exactly go the way they had planned.
We humans will always have troubles. The poor have trouble getting food, shelter, or clothes. The rich have trouble keeping their wealth and finding the right people to help them. Brand new bands have trouble filling a bar. Super bands have trouble finding a big enough arena or enough dates to satisfy demand of their fans.
It will always be something. To me, the sooner we admit it, the sooner we can get on with our lives. Things will happen. Trouble will rear its ugly head, and at the least opportune times for our plans. That is just a part of life we will all have to deal with, if not today, then soon.
When we understand this and begin to be a bit more realistic, we can better accept our troubles and plan to deal with them in a more constructive manner. There is no magic, and no amount of money will ever make every trouble go away. At some point, you’ll even have to worry about your money attracting robbers and thieves!
Take a moment and consider what kinds of troubles you had when you were at your poorest. Now take a moment and consider the troubles you had when you were at your richest. Did the troubles go away, or did you simply have a different kind of trouble to deal with? The latter has been my experience, how about you?
Troubles. Everybody has some of them. If not today, then soon. Don’t fall prey to the mistaken notion that just a little more money will make your troubles go away. True, the money might make that trouble go away, but it will be replaced by another soon enough.
Will you face your troubles, or will you try to buy your way out of them?