Meditations

I re-read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations a couple days ago, a New Year’s tradition. I also spent some more time digging in the appendices in this book, and comparing my notes from 2013. And, as I did last year, I tweeted some quotes and paraphrases that struck me as I read it this time around. A few of those, with book/chapter references:

Expecting nothing, shirking nothing, […] and a heroic truthfulness in all that you say and mean – then you will lead a good life. And nobody is able to stop you. (3.12)

Whenever you want to cheer up, think of the admirable qualities and virtues of your friends. (6.48)

That last one makes me think of Seneca, especially, and some other good stuff filed under my friends tag.

Do not be ashamed of being helped. […] It is human nature to love even those who trip and fall.“ (7.7 and 7.22)

Without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense. (7.69)

Prayer about things you want in the world < Prayer to be free from fear, desire, regret. (9.40)

Kindness is invincible. (11.18.9)

I appreciated his personal journaling this year as much as ever, but also felt like some things were missing – because, selfishly, he’s writing for himself and not for me specifically. But I take some comfort in seeing him grapple with his own shortcomings as I work on my own, and try to live well despite them.

Be sure to check out Austin Kleon’s thoughts from his own re-reading. I’ve got another re-read coming up shortly, just as soon as the postman delivers the Hays translation that Ryan Holiday recommends. Filed under: Stoicism.

Mean Professor Tells Student to “get your sh*t together” | Things Doanie Likes

One of the perks of the job.

xxxx, get your shit together. Getting a good job, working long hours, keeping your skills relevant, navigating the politics of an organization, finding a live/work balance…these are all really hard, xxxx. In contrast, respecting institutions, having manners, demonstrating a level of humility…these are all (relatively) easy. Get the easy stuff right xxxx. In and of themselves they will not make you successful. However, not possessing them will hold you back and you will not achieve your potential.

This is straight out of the Marcus Aurelius playbook. One of my favorite passages from Meditations comes in Book 5:

Display those virtues which are wholly in your own power–integrity, dignity, hard work, self-denial, contentment, frugality, kindness, independence, simplicity, discretion, magnanimity. Do you not see how many virtues you can already display without any excuse of lack of talent or aptitude? And yet you are still content to lag behind.

Mean Professor Tells Student to “get your sh*t together” | Things Doanie Likes

They cannot admire you for intellect. Granted–but there are many other qualities of which you cannot say, “but that is not the way I am made”. So display those virtues which are wholly in your own power–integrity, dignity, hard work, self-denial, contentment, frugality, kindness, independence, simplicity, discretion, magnanimity. Do you not see how many virtues you can already display without any excuse of lack of talent or aptitude? And yet you are still content to lag behind.

All things are short-lived–this is their common lot–but you pursue likes and dislikes as if all was fixed for eternity. In a little while you too will close your eyes, and soon there will be others mourning the man who buries you.

Marcus Aurelius on fame, death, and social media.

The body, too, should stay firmly composed, and not fling itself about either in motion or at rest. Just as the mind displays qualities in the face, keeping it intelligent and attractive, something similar should be required of the whole body. But all this should be secured without making an obvious point of it.

Marcus Aurelius on style, grace, comportment.

Always make a definition or sketch of what presents itself to your mind, so you can see it stripped bare to its essential nature and identify it clearly, in whole and in all its parts, and can tell yourself its proper name and the name of those elements of which it is compounded and into which it will be dissolved.

Marcus Aurelius. I’m taking the words out of context here so it appears that he likes sketching. I’ve been reading Martin Hammond’s Penguin translation and bookmarking every 3 paragraphs or so.

For if he shall begin to fall into dotage, perspiration and nutrition and imagination and appetite, and whatever else there is of the kind, will not fail; but the power of making use of ourselves, and filling up the measure of our duty, and clearly separating all appearances, and considering whether a man should now depart from life, and whatever else of the kind absolutely requires a disciplined reason, all this is already extinguished. We must make haste then, not only because we are daily nearer to death, but also because the conception of things and the understanding of them cease first.

Marcus Aurelius, reminding you that even if you live a long life, those last years probably won’t be very useful. Have a great day!