Today's letter from Seneca keeps us focused on ideas that at first seem hard to analogize to a 2018 Minnesota divorce.
For the most part, Seneca talks about himself, explaining that he too is applying the principles with great success. However, he says his joy would be diminished if he ever found out that Lucilius wasn't benefiting from his advice.
I'm sure he would be. It'd mean he spent his time spitting into the wind.
It's not until the last paragraph of his letter that Seneca actually gets around to offering his daily bit of wisdom. He says: "I have begun to be a friend to myself. That was indeed a great benefit; such a person can never be alone."
How does this apply to a 2018 Minnesota Divorce?
Seneca's wisdom about being a friend to oneself got me thinking about the issue of negative self-talk. How many of us talk to ourselves in ways we would never allow another person to do?
I know the words I use: You're a failure. No one is worrying like you. Why are you so screwed-up?
If anyone on the street badgered me this way, I'd punch them in the nose. But for some reason, I don't have a problem saying it to myself.
Or maybe I do. Perhaps it's the reason I get depressed sometimes, feel down.
Can you blame me?
If I harassed a colleague that way they'd write a front page story about me in the newspaper.
With that in mind, being a friend to oneself does sound like a "great benefit."
Imagine what would happen if the professionals in the divorce machine were truly friends to themselves? How many of us lawyers would still be nasty, cynical, or obnoxious?
What if the people getting divorced were also friends to themselves? What would that world look like?
My guess is that it's a place I'd like to see. A place where people wouldn't feel so threatened all the time. A place where each of us would believe in our own intrinsic value, that we were powerful, good people, caught in a bad moment.
And whether that moment continued for one more week or month or year, it would end-up being but a small fraction of our time on Earth. No one would willingly prolong it by fighting for things that didn't matter.
More than anything, though, that world would be a place where no one would fear being alone. Because, of course, no one is alone if they have themselves for a friend.
So today, I'm going to try to be my own friend. A friend to a guy who loves his family, always tries to do the right thing, and wants to blaze his own trail, even if the rest of the lawyers stand on the sidelines and snicker at me.
At least I won't be alone.