Dissecting Meditations, a personal journal by Marcus Aurelius Part #7
What you are getting into: 573 words, 3mins read
Here, I will share my contemplations upon reading the published personal journal of Marcus Aurelius, a roman emperor from 161-180 AD. Thoughts mainly stemmed from Stoicism, and Marcus Aurelius used the notes for guidance and self improvement. It’s a translated book by Gregory Hays, or you can read it online.
For this and upcoming posts I attempt to dissect quotes I favour upon reading the book.
Photo via Pixabay
Don’t let yourself forget how many doctors have died, after furrowing their brows over how many deathbeds. How many astrologers, after pompous forecasts about others’ ends. How many philosophers, after endless disquisitions on death and immortality. How many warriors, after inflicting thousands of casualties themselves. How many tyrants, after abusing the power of life and death atrociously, as if they were themselves immortal.
How many whole cities have met their end: Helike, Pompeii, Herculaneum, and countless others.
And all the ones you know yourself, one after another. One who laid out for burial, and was buried himself, and then the man who buried him — all in the same short space of time.
In short, know this: Human lives are brief and trivial. Yesterday a blob of semen; tomorrow embalming fluid, ash.
To pass through this brief life as nature demands. To give it up without complaint.
Like an olive that ripens and falls.
Praising its mother, thanking the tree it grew on.
Poignant as it seems, life is short and fragile. This entry starts off with a reminder, accomplished men like doctors, astrologers, philosophers, warriors, and even tyrants have met their end. I suspect these are the highly respected fields back in the Roman days. Much like today’s politicians, scientists, mathematicians, economists, inventors, Fortune 100 CEOs. Then it goes on to state even powerful cities can and will fall.
To those who reject the thought of death, I say they may be ignorant. Why? Because death awaits us all. What then? Should we just give it all up without putting on a good show? True, the entry may be a facile statement. Imagine watching a 5 second video of life VS a 90 second video of life can be used as an analogy here. Life is short, but there’s a difference between living fully for 5secs and living mindlessly for 90secs. To throw away experiencing life to it’s fullest and sucking the marrow out of it merely wastes the gift that is bestowed upon us all.
Try not to waste life away, even if your life is played on level 999. Try not to compare your level 999 to someone else’s level 5; something that is very easy to do in the amplified social media world. Pick an area and obsess about it. If it doesn’t work out, move on. Wallowing in despair because something doesn’t work out is futile, it brings no progress except to prolong the pain.
Onto the last part, the most important part, thanking the the tree it grew on. Be grateful for mother nature for giving us a life. Be grateful for parents, for giving birth to us. Be grateful for society, for giving us a sense of belonging. You can be grateful for anything if you look hard enough.
Life is cyclical. It has a start and an end. Then it starts again, but no longer our own.