Now and then, when I meet new people, and talk to them for a while, I am reminded of someone I already know. This doesn’t happen with every new person I meet, but I’ve been noticing it happening more and more. I’m not sure if this is just because I’ve already met enough people that everyone has some sort of similarity to someone else, or because I’m just taking more notice of small details in how people communicate — both their speech and body language.
In general, it’s not usually (or ever?) an exact match between the new person and the person I already know. It’s more of a vague impression that this person acts similarly to the other person in some way. It could be the slightest thing — difficult to pinpoint and describe — but it is enough to make me think of someone else.
It might be as simple as their inflection or tone of voice when they talk about something in particular. It could be an air of confidence or nervousness or some other emotion in their words and the way they carry themselves. Perhaps it’s even just the way they tilt their head or move their hands when they speak.
Recently I’ve had a certain passage from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations circulating around in my mind. As with other thoughts that float around in my head, I thought I’d record it here on my blog. I think it’s worth sharing too.
Do not imagine that, if something is hard for you to achieve, it is therefore impossible for any man: but rather consider anything that is humanly possible and appropriate to lie within your own reach too.
(Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 6, Chapter 19)
Perhaps a good reminder in these uncertain and ever-changing times.
Perhaps, also, a good reminder for me as I continue to try to learn how to play the piano!
I wonder what prompted Marcus Aurelius to record this particular meditation. I wonder what could have possibly put self-doubt in the mind of a Roman emperor; or maybe it was just pre-emptive, anticipating the mind’s natural tendency to recoil from difficult and laborious endeavours.
Anyway, I don’t think the passage needs much more explanation, elaboration or deconstruction. Just something to remember in hard times.
This post is not about silence in the usual sense.
It is not about the silence of libraries and waiting rooms, broken only by the occasional cough or the shuffling about of things and people.
Neither is it about the silence of the oppressed or marginalised.
It is not even about the silence of mid-night or early morning, when the streets are empty and the air is still.
As I write this, it is almost seven weeks since my grandma passed away. I will schedule this post to publish at more or less the seven-week mark.
I’m not sure why exactly it’s taken me this long to write about this. It’s not really that it’s been hard to talk about (especially after reading Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes). Part of it is simply that I didn’t have the time, energy or words.
But I know if I don’t write this, these thoughts will just continue to swirl around in my head indefinitely, waiting for an outlet. So, I suppose, this post is about my silence of the last seven weeks — the silence of loss. Continue reading
A colleague recently gave me some advice that reminded me of the words of Marcus Aurelius. They didn’t use the same words, but the message was essentially the same. Their words actually reminded me of a part of Meditations that I thought I would never blog about — not necessarily because I disagree with it, but because it never sat quite right with me.
When I first read it (a few years ago), I remember that I felt a bit… uncomfortable about it, I suppose is the best way to describe it. But I think, for the most part, I’ve come to terms with it now. I’m sure there is still some part of me that is bothered by it in a way I cannot quite articulate, but maybe acceptance will come with time. Continue reading
I’m generally not an aggressive driver. I try to be aware of other vehicles around me, and always let others merge into my lane, provided it’s safe to do so. There’s a certain point on the freeway on the way to work where a lot of lane changing occurs. As we approach the CBD, there is a tributary of traffic flowing steadily in on the left, and then, up ahead, there are exiting lanes on the right and left (depending on which street of the CBD you’re headed to).
This means that there are almost always people in one of the righthand-side lanes that need to move all the way left, and people in one of the lefthand-side lanes who want to get across to the right. It’s at this juncture that I’m on high alert, and will generally leave enough space between me and the car in front to allow someone else to merge/pass by if needed.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to tell you about a car accident. Continue reading
The last few weeks at work have been particularly challenging. All of August was challenging.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever been so stretched and so exhausted in all my working life so far. Operating on not enough sleep, I’m surprised I never had more than one large coffee per day. There were probably one or two days I didn’t have any.
But changes are happening, improvements are being made, and overall I’m still pretty optimistic. Some would say it’s impossible for me to not be optimistic, regardless of the situation or objective outlook. Continue reading