If you retreat to privacy, everything will be on a smaller scale, but you will be satisfied abundantly; in your present condition, however, there is no satisfaction in the plenty which is heaped upon you on all sides. Would you rather be poor and sated, or rich and hungry? Prosperity is not only greedy, but it also lies exposed to the greed of others. And as long as nothing satisfies you, you yourself cannot satisfy others.
The thing I pull from today’s letter is how our intent and actions should be shaped by our personal natures as well as by our nature as rational critters. You tell Lucilius that he doesn’t not have to, and indeed may not be able to, retire in obscurity, because of his writing, his efforts, and his projects.
The thing that is most poignant to me, is that in addition to studying philosophy, his business, etc. in his retirement, his personal nature will still have an effect on how he plans his projects.
It’s maybe easy for us to assume a cookier-cutter type niche as philosophers. It’s a useful reminder that if we choose the wrong shape, our own natures might either spill over the edges, or fail to fill the allotted space.