The true measure of “growth” is being able to enjoy life, as it is, whenever, however, it is. This can be felt when we are sick. Has it ever happened to you? That you are sick, and the only thing in the world that you want is to get better again.
One sickness that is hard to see is that of the mind. It can be felt though.
It is not house and lands, nor piles of bronze and gold which banish fevers from their owner’s sickly body, nor anxieties from his sickly mind.
Their owner must be well if he wants to enjoy his acquisitions. When a man is full of fears or cravings, house, and goods are as enjoyable as paintings are to blear eyes or hot fomentations to the gout. — Montaigne
Hot fomentations to the gout. I love this. If you don't know what the gout is, it was a pretty common illness in Montaigne’s days, I imagine.
Gout is a painful arthritis caused by high uric acid, often affecting the big toe. Hot compresses may relieve pain.
So there you have it. Your riches, if you’re mind is sickly, function just as a hot compress to alleviate the pain of an anxious mind.
They alone cannot be the answer. People have tried, and the rich and famous, it seems, are the most propense to go crazy and lose themselves to drugs.
The promise of philosophy is to rid you of that core pain of anxiousness and frenzy that come from a maladjusted mind. The measure of growth would be how good you feel about life and yourself, whether it is going well, or whether it is going bad.
Even when surrounded by his armies, anxiety, and fear can have him by the throat. — Montaigne
The Power of the Will
The most valuable treasure a man has is the ability to decide what things are to him. Epictetus famously said that they could maim his leg, but his will, not even Zeus had power over it.
But we don’t use it. Do you know how I know? Because I still get anxious when I am living. I care too much about my “valuables”. I am afraid of losing my health, or my job, or not being able to pay for my family’s insurance, and so on, you know how it is. You get used to the pleasures and the luxuries, so…