Seneca And Unfinished Relationships
Never lift you hand from the finished work, for you could actually finish it.
There is the same difference between having gained a friend and actually gaining a friend as there is between a farmer harvesting and a farmer sowing. The philosopher Attalus used to say that it was more of a pleasure to make a friend than to have one, “in the same way as an artist derives more pleasure from painting than from having completed a picture”. When his whole attention is absorbed in concentration on the work he is engaged on, a tremendous sense of satisfaction is created in him by his very absorption. There is never quite the same gratification after he has lifted his hand from the finished work.
— Seneca, Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium, Letter IX
I cannot but agree, but with an addition I think crucial: the very point of a relationship is to never stop painting. It is the journey taken together that of all things alone has a true meaning.