Contemplating Seneca #85: Not Caught Off Guard

This week I started listening to the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast #1470 with Elon Musk. One of the first topics discussed is why Elon Musk is selling all his houses. What was his answer? Target vector. Huh? Apparently his houses increase his chances of being targeted by the outside. All his wealth, and he is looking at it as a burden. His plan for the future is to rent his lodgings.

As I listened to this I was reminded of Thomas J. Stanley’s The Millionaire Next Door. According to the book, the average millionaire is not the guy with all the flashy possessions. Instead, it is the guy who lives modestly and doesn’t spend his money on everything that catches his fancy. I read this book in my thirties, and it was a slap in the face of my twenties. Back then, I wasted all kinds of money on the wrong things. I was all show with no real financial substance to back it up.

There was another thing I was reminded of as I listened to Elon Musk’s interview. Check out these words from Seneca:

Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: “Is this the condition that I feared?”…If you would not have a man flinch when the crisis comes, train him before it comes. – Letter #18: On Festivals and Fasting

Practice poverty. Practice living below your means. Do this and if Fortune deals the dreadful blow, you will not face anything that you have not previously endured.  As Seneca says later in the same letter, “Let us practice our strokes on the “dummy”; let us become intimate with poverty, so that Fortune may not catch us off our guard.” Many of us have dealt with the hard times before. Hopefully, all of us have recovered from those times or are actively in the recovery process. The process has made us more resilient. But let us not forget that the hard times can come again. Wouldn’t it be better to prepare now?

Boldly Go

Last week I was able to catch The Joe Rogan Experience episode #1108 with Dr. Peter Attia. Joe Rogan’s podcast is consistently at the top of the charts and may be one of my favorite ones to listen to. I honestly think I learn something new every time I listen to it.


In this episode, Dr. Attia talks about his open water swimming. He once held the record for the double-crossing of the Auau Channel (Maui to Lanai and then back to Maui). The over 19 mile swim took 11 hours and 45 minutes.

Can you imagine it? The swim was completed overnight to not interfere with shipping traffic. It was done at night, when God knows what is lurking or hunting in the waters below. Leaving the safety of the shore, you walk into the water and begin swimming into the unknown. There is no sight of land on the other side, only the open water.

You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. –William Faulkner

The vision is clear in your head. You can picture the destination. You can smell it and hear it. You may not be there physically. But in your mind’s eye, you go there often. How will you get there? How will you make your vision a reality? You take that first step, then the next, and you keep stepping. That first step takes courage. It is only one tiny little step. But to build courage, you have to start out small. You have to take tiny little steps over and over. In time, your stride will lengthen and you will gain your rhythm. As you train daily in courage, your ability to go farther and farther from the shore increases. You will become comfortable doing the things other people fear.

Exploration across the land, the sea, and through space began with hope. There was a hope in something beyond the known. The known is safe, and to venture into the unknown takes courage. You hope the rewards are worth it. But without taking that first step, you will never know.