do not run hither and thither distracting yourself by changing your abode; for such restlessness is the sign of a disordered spirit.
the primary indication, to my thinking, of a well-ordered mind is a man’s ability to remain in one place and remain in his own company.
be careful, however, lest this reading of many authors and books of every sort, may tend to make you discursive and unsteady.
you must linger among a limited number of master-thinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind
everywhere means nowhere.
when a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.
and the same thing must hold true of men who seek intimate acquaintance with no single author, but visit them all in a hasty and hurried manner.
food does no good and is not assimilated into the body when it leaves the stomach as soon as it is eaten: nothing hinders a cure so much as frequent change of medicine. we can only heal when we stick to our greatness within. a plant which is often moved can never grow strong the roots will never hold firm.
by remaining consistent in what we do we transform the subconscious mind. and so excellence becomes a habit. there is nothing so efficacious that it can be helpful while it is being shifted about. and in reading of many books is a distraction. few good books a day are worth more value than many great books. we need to meditate on what we read. our books must give us clarity of mind not further cluttering us up inside. a simple song will soothe the soul. nothing is heard in a crowd of authors but when one great spirit is standing on the podium everyone listens.
accordingly, since you cannot read all the books which you may possess, it is enough to possess only as many books as you may read. diversity is a good thing however, we need to retain meaning from what we read. the moon is only alive as it shines a light on the journey of the traveler.
“but”, you might say, “i wish to dip first into one book and then into another.”
i tell you that it is the sign of an overnice appetite to toy with many dishes; for when they are manifold and varied, they cloy but do not nourish. the body delights in simplicity and consistency. it needs maturity to deal with the reading of many authors. for it is not the reading that is hard but the managing of knowledge that is a necessity. just as all men desire to be wealthy but yet cannot manage the little that they have, so knowledge too needs to be managed wisely.
so you should always read standard authors, and not rushing through them either, but patiently understanding yourself through their words. as a fast must be carefully broken with leafy greens and plenty water so our reading must be done with the same care and grace. when you crave a change, fall back upon those whom you read before.
each day acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death, indeed against other misfortunes as well, it is best to be prepared for whatever life will bring. and after you have run over many thoughts, select one to be thoroughly digested that day. it is with wisdom that we are able to overcome life’s indignities and enjoy the pleasures that fortune brings.
this is my own custom; from the many things which i have read, i claim some one part for myself. it is by assimilating our thoughts with that of our master thinkers that we create a great force within our voice.
the thought for today is one which i discovered in epicurus. he says, “contented poverty is an honourable estate.” indeed, if it be contented, it is not poverty at all. by making sacrifices of ourselves we invest in future generations though many in the present will never understand. in all, i do, i live for today but write for tomorrow.
it is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor. judge a man not by what he has but by who he is. his possessions will never save him when a deluge sweeps his city, what will sustain him is his wisdom.
what does it matter how much a man has laid up in his safe, or in his warehouse, or how large is his home, or how many cars he has, if he covets his neighbour’s property, and reckons, not his past gains, but worries of his gains to come? to learn to have enough is an art. fulfillment comes at the cost of material possessions.
do you ask what is the proper limit to wealth?
it is, first, to have what is necessary, and, second, to have what is enough. the essence of life is to be rich within. and that entails poverty without. for time is where our riches lie. it is what instructs all men.