A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was giving me a lift home from work. On the way, she kept complaining that she was so hungry and really wanted to eat. Our plan, however, had been to go for a run, or at least do some exercise, and I generally don’t eat right before exercise (it’s just not a good idea), so I was basically trying to get her to stop complaining and get some control over her appetite.
There are a lot of recurring themes and messages in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and one that I’ve found myself thinking about quite a lot recently is his assertion that history is constantly repeating itself, and hence no problem is ever completely new.
What I find interesting about this is that I actually discounted this assertion when I first came across his remarks about it in the book. I mean, this book was written almost 2000 years ago, and a lot has changed since then, right? Continue reading
Of all the lessons, revelations, advice and guiding principles that I’ve gotten from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations there’s probably one that’s been most influential. Well, I actually hesitate to say that because I don’t always follow it, and because I’ve taken so much from reading the book that it’s really hard to pinpoint which one singular passage I think about the most; but if I had to choose one, this would be it:
Most of what we say and do is unnecessary: remove the superfluity, and you will have more time and less bother. … And the removal of the unnecessary should apply not only to actions but to thoughts also: then no redundant actions either will follow.
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 4, Chapter 24
This year, I have read some very interesting, and very “different” books. I read New Earth which is sort of about spirituality and focuses a lot on focusing on the present moment; I read Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World which was a very bizarre story in which death – particularly the imminence of death – featured quite prominently; I read A Tale for the Time Being which dealt with suicide a lot; and, not too long ago, I finished reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations which is a philosophical text that addresses, among many things, the idea of transience.
All these books – which, let it be noted, I did not intentionally choose to read in that order, or consciously plan to read them all this year, but rather that it so happened that I came across them or otherwise felt compelled to pick them up when I did – all these books have got me thinking, subconsciously and consciously, from time to time, about how everything is transient and ephemeral and impermanent and all those beautiful words that mean more or less the same thing.
I’ve still been reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, still been carrying it around with me everywhere I go (I always take a book wherever I go – well, almost everywhere). A colleague (now, sadly, ex-colleague) commented the other week, when she saw me walking around at work with it, that she thought I was holding the Bible. I joked to her that it basically was like a bible to me.
I don’t quite know how to preface this post without going into an elaborate personal story that will take all night for me to explain, so let’s suffice to say that a friend and I have had some misunderstandings. But, don’t worry, we’re working our way through it all, and, as part of the process, I wrote up some “reminders” to myself.