Wherever You Go, You’re Still You

Seneca, Moral Epistle 28.1-2

“Do you think that this has happened to only you and you are surprised as if it is a revelation that after so long a trip through so many different places you cannot escape your sadness and the weight on you mind? You need to change your spirit, not the weather.  Sure, you can cross the wide open see and let, as our Vergil says, “the lands and the cities to fade behind you,”  but wherever you go, there your faults are.

Socrates once said to someone complaining, “Why are you shocked that travelling doesn’t help you when you take yourself everywhere? The very thing that chased you away is on top of you still.” How can the novelty of other lands delight you? How can learning new cities and regions please? This travelling produces nothing. Do you ask why your escape doesn’t help you? Well , you’re fleeing with yourself.”

Hoc tibi soli putas accidisse et admiraris quasi rem novam, quod peregrinatione tam longa et tot locorum varietatibus non discussisti tristitiam gravitatemque mentis? Animum debes mutare, non caelum. Licet vastum traieceris mare, licet, ut ait Vergilius noster, “Terraeque urbesque recedant” sequentur te, quocumque perveneris, vitia.

Hoc idem querenti cuidam Socrates ait: “Quid miraris nihil tibi peregrinationes prodesse, cum te circumferas? Premit te eadem causa, quae expulit.” Quid terrarum iuvare novitas potest? Quid cognitio urbium aut locorum? In inritum cedit ista iactatio. Quaeris quare te fuga ista non adiuvet? Tecum fugis.

meme of cartoon figure with two buttons. One is "change self" the other is "schedule vacation". The character is labelled as Lucilius, the fictional addressee of Seneca's letter

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