“Fortune doesn’t have the long reach we suppose, she can only lay siege to those who hold her tight. So, let’s step back from her as much as possible.”SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 82.5b-6
To be honest, in explaining today’s quote in The Daily Stoic, the author gives a long and winding explanation that I couldn’t really understand. There was a football analogy too, and despite being a football fan I couldn’t grasp that either. With all due respect to Ryan Holiday, I think he was drawing on some additional historical context that he has at his disposal — and for little old me, I just got lost.
So I’m going to attempt to explain Seneca’s quote above as best I can, in a way that makes sense to me.
Here’s what it means to me: ‘luck’ as we know it only affects people who believe overly much in it, and who depend upon it. The concept of fortune (or misfortune) only has power because we give it that power. If you cling to it, luck has an out-sized factor in your life.
So don’t do that. Don’t “hold her tight”. Leave nothing to chance. Give it no more power than it deserves. “Step back from her as much as possible,” says Seneca, meaning that we should brush aside the concept and focus instead on what we can control.
Rather than being reliant on chance, instead rely on yourself. Depend on your own preparation, your own training. Create your own good fortune, driven by your practice and hard work.