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When We Die, We’re Gone

The Stoic life is a combination of wise words, and a slap in the face. How so, you might ask. Many people have written wise words about how to live the Stoic life, not more so perhaps that the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Marcus wrote much about his Stoic life, but he wasn’t writing to become famous for his words.

Marcus’s words were written to himself, as he went over his day, looking at the things he’d failed in, and how he would do better if faced by such things again. He was not writing for an audience, so he was writing the truth as it seemed to be to him.

The headline of this post is a thought of my own, and it relates to a thought I had today. I certainly don’t believe I am going to heaven when I die. When I die, that’s it, my life is over, and my mind and body will be finished. Whether others remember me after I die is irrelevant to me, because I won’t know, I’ll be dead.

Other people may have other ideas about such matters, and all I can say to that is, well, I don’t believe your thoughts to be true. I cannot see how or why there could be a God, or Heaven, or so no Hell either. I don’t do good things so I can get into Heaven, I do good things because that is the right thing to do, both for myself, and for others.

And if others do bad things to me? According to the Stoic thoughts, I should feel sorry for those people because they surely have something wrong with themselves, that they should do such bad things to another person. So forgive them, but do your best to not be harmed by that person again.

I have troubles with this line of thinking, but I realise the problem is more likely to be with me, than with the wise Roman ruler, and others of his ilk. I will go on thinking about such things, and work to gain understanding. I welcome the thoughts anyone else has regarding these matters, and I hope for greater understanding. Please leave a comment, if there is anything you can add to this!

What Would Marcus Aurelius Do?

I have my own responsibilities to my community, and I work hard at meeting my tasks with them, because it is important we all do what we can to help our own community to go well, no matter the size of that community.

When having something that requires further ethical thought, some people think on the idea of “What would Jesus Do”. As an Atheist, a person looking to more secular assistance in looking on my life, and the best ways to go, I prefer to go more with the thoughts of philosopher, and in particular, the Stoics.

The man for me to consider is perhaps, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who was a learned man, over two thousand years ago. He was a Stoic, hence my interest in his thoughts. And another of the things he did every morning and evening was to write about his thoughts and decisions, creating a book that was to be widely known as “The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus”.

When Marcus wrote this book, he was writing only for himself, and to assist in working through the many decisions he had to make in his life. Being the Emperor of Rome is a big job, that’s for sure. I’m certainly not ever going to have to deal with the decisions he had to deal with, life and death issues, and the massive affairs of state.

So I am looking at Stoicism to assist me in my life, my life scaled down from what Marcus ever had to deal with, but still important to me, and to my community nonetheless. I have my dog to look after, Missy – here she is –

And of course our plants require my assistance at times. I’m not the main person in charge of watering, but it is definitely a sometimes task for me, especially in summer, when lack of water could be the end of our plants, which would be a wasteful thing, after all of the care we have given them. These are some of our plants:

So Missy gets fed, and let inside and outside, as needed, and the plants get watered as needed. I do my share of the chores in our household, and my husband does his share. We do this sensibly, as we should, with no accusations of shirking, because the things that need to get done are more important than our egos.

I doubt Marcus Aurelius ever had to look after a dog, or do housework, but I extrapolate, and consider issues from my own point of view, more than two thousand years later. I have my own responsibilities to my community, and I work hard at meeting my tasks with them, because it is important we all do what we can to help our own community to go well, no matter the size of that community.

So no matter the issue, I will do my best to do the best, the best for others, the best for my own wisdom, the best thing I can to become the best person I can become, as Marcus Aurelius was also thinking about, and doing way back when he lived, ruled, and then died – doing the best he could to become the best person he could be.