Marcus Aurelius, from Exhortations to Himself

Be like the rock that the waves beat against but do not vanquish. I am unhappy because this has happened to me? No, I am happy, even though this has happened to me. I go on, unvanquished and free from fear.

This could have happened to anyone, but not everyone can carry on, free from vexation. What makes this a misfortune rather than good fortune? Isn’t it a misfortune to act against our nature? Isn’t it contrary to nature to deviate from my own nature? I know what nature wills. Is this misfortune going to keep me from being giving, centered, careful, focused? Will it prevent me from being modest, free, and everything else I do in accordance with nature?

Remember to apply this principle every time you are vexed: this is not a misfortune; to bear this nobly is good fortune. (Book IV. 49)


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