“It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing. So it is—the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but are wasteful of it. Just as great and princely wealth is scattered in a moment when it comes into the hands of a bad owner, while wealth however limited, if it is entrusted to a good guardian, increases by use, so our life is amply long for him who orders it properly.
“Why do we complain of Nature? She has shown herself kindly; life, if you know how to use it, is long.”
— Seneca, Liber X: Ad Paulinum De Brevitate Vitae
One of our writing assignments for June 2015 at the Golden Pen Writers Guild was to write about…purple. So here’s what I came up with:
You’ve likely never heard of this sea snail, but it held a treasure worth more than gold in ancient times. The seacoasts of the ancient city of Tyre emitted a constant stench from millions of these crushed and rotting shells for centuries. One tiny gland from 12,000 of the animals produced a mere 1.4 grams of this treasure—Tyrian Purple dye.
“Tears will fail us sooner than the causes for weeping.”
— Seneca, Liber XI: Ad Polybium De Consolatione
Even though I’ve been otherwise occupied for most of this year and not devoted as much time as normal to writing, there’s always time for haiku and tanka—one of the reasons I love them. It really doesn’t take much for one to pop into my head, and I’ve actually been using them quite a lot in Instagram posts—they’re perfect for the purpose of accompanying a photograph.
* * *
Just when life grows dim
And it seems there’s nothing left
But a downward trend,
Suddenly flow through my pen
Words of comfort from my mind.
Written as a piece for my return to activity at the Golden Pen Writers Guild in April after a long absence.
* * *
Cool, refreshing morn
After an unpleasant night
On the Southwest Chief…
Looking out my door
Pouring rain is what I see
Yet the sun is out.
Yesterday was rain,
But today on waking up
SNOW is what I find!
Written during my spring trip to Flagstaff, Arizona and attached to various photos and video clips I posted to Instagram.
* * *
Flowers in a pot
Stand in humble tribute to
Loved ones who are gone.
Memorial Day at the Veterans Historical Plaza Park, Saugus, CA.
* * *
© MMXV Douglas P. Kendrick, all rights reserved.
“Why do you wonder that globe-trotting does not help you, seeing that you always take yourself with you? The reason which set you wandering is ever at your heels.”
— Seneca quoting Socrates, Epistle XXVIII On Travel as a Cure for Discontent
So—traveling in and of itself will not change a person.
By the way, you’ll be seeing lots of quotes from Seneca for a while since I’ve been reading my way through his complete works. He’s probably my favorite of the ancient Stoics—with plenty of wisdom that’s applicable for our time.
“Why I came here I know not; where I shall go it is useless to inquire—in the midst of the myriads of the living and the dead worlds, stars, systems, infinity, why should I be anxious about an atom?”
— George Gordon, Lord Byron