Marcus Aurelius, from Exhortations to Himself

Think back on all those who have been, those you have known and those you haven’t. Now, remind yourself: Where are they? Nowhere, or nobody knows where.

Human beings are like smoke and what has been won’t be again in this infinite cosmos.

Then there is you, here, now. What do you feel compelled to do?  What are you avoiding doing? What is life but an exercise in reason? Keep going, like a strong stomach, like the fire that makes everything thrown into it into flame.

Never allow it to be said of you that you are not simple and good. Prove anyone who says otherwise a liar. That is in your power. Who can prevent you from being simple and good? Only decide that this is how you will live. This is the only manner in which reason allows us to live. (X.31-32)

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