Marcus Aurelius, from Exhortations to Himself

You are composed of three things: body, breath, and mind. Of these, the first two are yours only in care. Only the third is truly your own. If you separate from yourself everything that others say and do, and if you separate from the things that you have said and done in the past; and if you separate from yourself your worries about the future; and if you stop worrying about what you can’t change about your body and the involuntary breathing that goes with it, then your mind can live, pure and free, no matter what swirling vortex of circumstances fate may bring, all the while doing what is just; accepting what happens; and telling the truth.

If you will separate your guiding principle from all those things that attach to it—such as sense impressions and worry about the past and the future—then you will be like the sphere of Empedocles,* “perfectly rounded and at rest.” If you strive to live what is only, truly your life—meaning the present moment—then you will be able to pass the life that you have left to you untroubled, serene, and obedient to your own conscience. (XII.3 )



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