Marcus Aurelius, from Exhortations to Himself

When you wake up in the morning and don’t want to get out of bed, think about this: I am getting up to do the work of a human being. Why am I dissatisfied with doing the things for which I exist? Or do I exist for the purpose of staying in my pajamas and keeping warm?

But, you say, this is more pleasant! Do you exist for pleasure? or for work and action?

Look at the little plants; the little birds; the ants, the spiders; the bees all working together to give order to the universe. Are you unwilling to do the part of a human being? Why don’t you hurry to the work that is your nature? Sure, you need rest. That is necessary. But rest has natural boundaries, as do eating and drinking, even though you go beyond those bounds, beyond what you need.

You do not love yourself, for if you did, you would respect nature’s limits. In work, however, you stop quickly. Those who love their work keep going, without bathing, without food. But you love your nature less than a dancer does dancing; or a lover of money loves money; or the egotistical love glory. Is work and action for society so contemptible to you? (V. 1)


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