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The moth story immediately reminds of the movie Gattaca where the protagonist takes on the identity of a person with better genes in order to be able to pilot a ship. In piloting the ship and following his dream, he defies his society where jobs are allocated based on genetic makeup and probability. However, at the same time he is potentially endangering the lives of his crew members.

It's difficult to judge his actions. The society itself is backwards because its citizens serve their jobs more so than people. People are much more than their jobs! The protagonist wanted the freedom to do as he pleased, to follow his passion. But at the same time, he was a slave to his passion, and in doing so, potentially endangered his fellow crew members.

For the moth and the protagonist, life was more about fulfilling their own passions rather than being alive. Their drives were for a fleeting glow of their familiar passion and there was no peace in their inner-lives because of it. They could not breathe, think, enjoy, or love because of that lack of peace. There are many ways to live a life, and to throw it up in a spark seems such a waste if there was more to live for.

Perhaps there wasn't much else to live for.

The Financial Philosopher


I do not disagree with your interpretation of this lesson.

The lesson of the moth potentially brings to mind the struggle between two self-defeating extremes: 1) Debilitating inertia and 2)Self-destructive behavior for the sake of selfish and narrow objective.

I interpret the lesson as somewhere in the middle: Seek purpose and meaning in life; play to win rather than play to "not lose;" and move toward something you want to live for rather than something would "die for."

As always, moderation and simplicity are key!


Here is an argument that we humans are poor predictors of what makes us happy, which can lead to poor decision making:


This is the basic argument by Daniel Gilbert:

"Gilbert is the author of Stumbling on Happiness, which I highly recommend picking up if you have time. It is not a self-help book instructing people on how to be happy. Rather he expands the argument that people are fundamentally bad at predicting what will make them happy. Their poor predictions result in strategic errors in decision making."

If we resist the urge to jump into the flame, we may realize a few years later that that brief moment of ecstasy would have been a bad decision. Experiencing that moment of ecstasy may prevent us from experiencing many more moments of ecstasy that are less terminal.

Additional food for thought:

What we think will make us happy today, will probably not make us happy tomorrow.

What makes one person happy, probably will not bring happiness to someone else.


The Financial Philosopher


I also agree with your comment and I will absolutely look at the Gilbert link.

When I first read the lesson of the moth, I interpreted the moth's behavior as impulsive and self-destructive.

The final line from the narrator of the lesson, "I wished there was something I wanted as badly as he wanted to fry himself," is what moved me to post the lesson.

I find myself somewhere between the narrator and the moth: I will remove inertia by persistently seeking purpose and meaning in my life yet I will remain mindful of the pitfalls of foolish impulses and false rewards that are often led by a poor sense of self-awareness.

Your final thought that says, "What makes one person happy, probably will not bring happiness to someone else," strikes at the core of most people's life challenges, whether they know it or not. I'm convinced that neither the narrator nor the moth exibit good self-awareness traits.

Thanks for joining the discussion and provoking more thought! I hope you will add more thoughts and references to other thoughts again as you have done today...



For some reason (maybe my limited frame of personal reference), everything here seems to remind me of something I've seen or read in a movie or a book.

The moment of fiery death that the moth seeks reminds me of scenes from the movie, "Point Break", in which the head of the surfers/bankrobbers gang (played by Patrick Swayze) is constantly seeking a way to live on the edge, or die in a moment of beauty and exhilaration.

Kent's comments on moderation and simplicity, and finding purpose in life, reminded me of Holden Caulfield's teacher telling him, "The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one."

And Charles' comments on our inability to predict our own happiness brings to mind a scene from the movie Metropolitan, when one character says about his parents' generation, "they wanted to be happy, but of course the last way to be happy is to make it your objective in life".

The Financial Philosopher


I believe you tie everything together well. Thanks!

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About Kent Thune

  • Kent Thune is a wealth manager, a writer and a philosopher... Read More


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