From Marcus Aurelius – A Thought

“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”   Marcus Aurelius

I searched for and posted the thought above to a Facebook page of a friend. I like to find words that have relevance in the modern day, that have held onto the relevance they have held through the times since they were first spoken.
Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome two thousand years ago, and he was also a philosopher, using Stoic thought as his guide to the travails of life. He seems to have been a wise leader, and his wisdom is definitely still relevant to us in these modern times. He would consider his actions coming for each day, in the morning, and then in the evening, think of what the day had brought, and how he had acted.
Thinking on our lives in such Stoic Philosopher makes very much sense. There are so many options to take, and decisions to make, but in reality, when one considers the decisions with wisdom and thought, the end results, in keeping with Stoic thought, will be wise ones. Putting aside the myriad things that one cannot change, and that actually are not yours to decide on anyway, will clear space for you, cutting away the unnecessary and unneeded thought.
If it seems difficult to work against your natural inclinations, it may well be your brain trying to tell you the truth, it is not your business to act, so why are you working so hard to do something … Doing the best you can, for the things that truly are yours to decide upon, that is your Natural business, and those things are the important things for you to thnk on, and do.

A tree doesn’t try to make apple crumble, that is not natural for a tree to do, a tree though, an apple tree, will work at growing the apples that go toward making apple crumble. And an apple tree will grow those apples at the correct time. It will bloom in Spring, bees will pollinate the blossom, and then the fruit will grow and be ready to harvest at the appropriate time.
If you were to say you will make apple crumble next year, using your own home grown apples, but don’t do any of the necessary things every day, to actually grow apples, it will be nonsense. So yes, you may have had a thought about something you wish to do in the future, but there is work to do.
You also have to consider there may not be any fruit to use, even if you do actually plant an apple tree. And apple trees take time to go from just planted, to bearing fruit. Spending time studying how to grow your own apples, or asking those who know about such things are wise things to do, if that is something you wish to do.
So thinking of the future is never a guarantee that what you want will ever happen. If you use your reason, and do all of the things that need to be done, to have the things you want or need to live a good life, (with apple crumble if that is what makes for a good life for you), then your reason will help you to perform all of your necessary tasks.
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Photo by Tom Swinnen on Pexels.com

Forgiving Ourselves

It’s that time just after Christmas, when some of us, many perhaps, are possibly regretting the good times over Christmas day, in terms of food and drinks taken. Dining lightly is not a thing usually considered sensibly at Christmas time.

I didn’t had overly much more than I usually have, at a meal, but have possible had a little more than I needed to consume, and certainly on Christmas day, had a lot more alcohol than I usually have. Is it a thing to beat myself up about, or not?

I say not. Good times were had on Christmas day, fine times with family members, nice food and drinks, and pleasant chats, sharing information about how our lives have been going, since we last caught up.

So, even though I did drink more wine than I usually do, I easily forgave myself for that indulgence. I shared the fine wine with others, didn’t drink it all myself, I didn’t drink and drive, and as far as I’m aware, I said or did nothing untoward. All went well, and we all had a fine time!

I may have put on a little more unwanted weight, over the Christmas period, but I’ve been making much better food choices in terms of how much and what I’m eating, and I’ve begun a regime of exercises, most of which I do every day. On the days I don’t do all of the exercises, I always do at least some of them.

So if I can continue eating moderately, almost all of the time, and doing these exercises, which were given to me by the physio I have seen recently, then I hope to get fitter and more able to continue improving my own health. On the days I don’t do all of the exercises, I don’t inwardly berate myself, but I am kind, acknowledging that life has many things that have to be done, and happy with myself for at least doing some exercise every single day.

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And because I forgive myself, I am becoming better at forgiving others too, when they fail, as I, as a Stoic, should try to do every time. I still find it difficult, but acknowledge my efforts to do so as being worthy, and my failures not usual because I am only human, like all of us, and so not perfect.

If I can go on getting better and better with these things, I will be increasing my wisdom, and becoming closer to the person I am working on becoming. Those who transgress are also only human, and so prone to failures at times, in terms of doing the best thing possible, for themselves, peeople they now, their community, and the world.

Ignorance Is Not Bliss!

The wise person knows there is much they still don’t yet know, but they want to learn. If you are a young person, you can be forgiven for thinking you know all you need to know, but life will soon show you your ignorance on that, as long as you have a mind still open to seeing and learning.

If your mind is kept closed though, and you go on thinking you know all you need to know, you will suffer in many ways because of your attitude. And it is likely many others may also suffer from your wilful ignorance.

Are you one of those people, high in self admiration, and low in actual self realisation? Being ignorant of the level of your ignorance may feel blissful to you, because realising the depth of your stupidity and ignorance would be embarrassing to say the least. Acknowledging your ignorance, though humbling, is a necessary step toward opening your mind up, and letting new knowledge in.

*The salt bush plant doesn’t aspire to travel far itself, but it produces seeds which may travel an unknowable way …*

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When you begin learning, you realise so much more about your life, and you may finally see the errors you have made in the past. This is an important time, because it will encourage further and further learning. With more learning leading to evermore learning, you are on your way to reaching wisdom, when before, you had no wisdom at all, only opinions. 

And, as American writer Harlan Ellison said “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”

If the role of each person is, or in the opinion of the Stoics, should be, to become the best possible person you can, then you will go on learning, doing the best things you can do. Teaching others, helping them to realise the importance of going on learning, this is a fine role in life, if that is of interest to you.

And those who think they’ve already learnt all there is to know, well they can never achieve their highest possible heights, can they? To go on learning is an admirable thing for sure. Whether the learning is in a formal way, or informally, is not important, the learning is the important part. 

Learning and then going good with all you learn. For of course, doing good for self, for community, and for the world, this is the Stoic way. I welcome other thoughts on what is written here, please leave comments here.