Whatever it is, this being of mine is made up of flesh, breath, and directing mind. Now the flesh you should disdain - blood, bones, a mere fabric and network of nerves, veins, and arteries. Consider too what breath is: wind - and not even a constant, but all the time being disgorged and sucked in again. That leaves the third part, the directing mind. Quit your books - no more hankering: this is not your gift. No, think like this, as if you were on the point of death: 'you are old; don't then let this directing mind of yours be enslaved any longer - no more jerking to the strings of selfish impulse, no more disquiet at your present or suspicion of your future fate.
In the category of things out of our control are: our bodies and our deaths. True, we have control over our bodies in the sense that if we eat lots of food we will cause ourselves to get fat. Or if we exercise and get fit, we will cause our bodies to be fit. But ultimately, we don't have control over our bodies if we get leukemia (bone and blood cancer) or any other sort of disease. And as for death, we truly don't have control over our deaths (assuming we will never commit suicide). In other words, we don't know if a meteor will hit us or if a volcano will vaporizes us and all the people in our city. In summary, we don't have true control over our bodies and our death. And furthermore, we would be wise to be aware that death hangs over us every day.
Therefore, knowing this, the question remains: how best to live the life you have now? Will you live it in selfish impulse?
The Hedonists (see Hedonism) believed that the ultimate purpose of life is is to maximize pleasure. Eat til you're stuffed - every day! Drink til you're drunk - every day! Dance like there's no tomorrow - every day! Don't do a single thing that will cause you pain.
Play this out in your mind. Ask yourself; do you really want a 600-pound life? Will that burger really make you happy and content? Spending one-more-minute snap-chatting, scrolling Twitter or Instagram - will that make you happy? Studies are showing that the opposite is true; it's causing depression.
"No more jerking to the strings of impulse." Marcus tells us that things things (pleasure, disquiet, mindless scrolling) will not help us find contentment.
Listen to how ridiculous this sounds if these words were engraved on someone's tombstone:
- Here lies Nancy, who loved to eat. (her burial plot was double-wide)
- Here lies James, who loved to spend hours on Instagram
- Here lies Susan, who got the top score on a video game
- Here lies Kurt, who watched every episode on Netflix
What do you want to be said of you? Do you want people to say you were a kind person, who helped others? Who was happy and content? Or do you want people to say, "yup, they loved their food, social media and they lived for himself."
Ponder on that.
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