Marcus Aurelius, from Exhortations to Himself

II.17 A lifetime is a dot; it is flux, and our perceptions are dim and our bodies rotting. Our spirits are in whirl; we don’t know what will happen next; and fame is almost arbitrary. In sum, our bodies are a stream and our spirits are dreams and vapors. Life is a battle; a wayfarer’s journey; our fame is oblivion.

What can get us through? The love of wisdom. But this requires we keep our minds free from violence and attack. This requires us to be judicious in pain and pleasure; requires us to be above lies and hypocrisy, independent of what others do or think. It requires that we accept what happens and what we have or don’t have as coming from wherever it comes from—the same place we come from.

Finally, it takes waiting for death cheerfully, considering death nothing more than the dissolution of the elements that all living things are made of. Because, if the elements are never damaged, changing from one thing to another, why should we human beings fear dissolving and changing? It’s just what nature does, and there’s nothing bad about what’s natural. 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s