How Work is Like a Girlfriend

Seneca, Moral Epistles 22.9-11

“My Lucilius, it is easy to avoid work, if you learn to reject work’s rewards! These are the things the delay and detain us–“What, should I give up such prospects? Should I quit at harvest time? Should my side be stripped of attendants? Should my litter go uncarried? Should my entryway be empty of guests?”

People give up these things begrudgingly. They love suffering’s payday, but hate suffering itself. People complain about their ambition like they would a girlfriend. What I mean is if you take a close look at their feelings, it isn’t really hate, but negotiation.

Examine those who complain about what they really want and who claim they what to flee those things they can’t bear to be without. You will understand that they willingly tarry in a place they insist is hard, even insufferable, to handle. This is why, Lucilius, while fewer people are enslaved, most people cling to slavery.”

Facile est autem, mi Lucili, occupationes evadere, si occupationum pretia contempseris. Illa sunt, quae nos morantur et detinent: “Quid ergo? Tam magnas spes relinquam? Ab ipsa messe discedam? Nudum erit latus, incomitata lectica, atrium vacuum?”

Ab his ergo inviti homines recedunt et mercedem miseriarum amant, ipsas execrantur. Sic de ambitione quomodo de amica queruntur; id est, si verum adfectum eorum inspicias, non oderunt, sed litigant. Excute istos, qui, quae cupiere, deplorant et de earum rerum locuntur fuga, quibus carere non possunt; videbis voluntariam esse illis in eo moram, quod aegre ferre ipsos et misere locuntur. Ita est, Lucili; paucos servitus, plures servitutem tenent.

Oil painting of a dark hair woman looking from beneath her eyebrows at the viewer, She has pale skin and a dark necklace
“The Albian Girl,” Albert Küchler 1831

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