Book 3, passage 2 is classic Aurelius waxing strong in the discipline of desire.
Everything which ordinary people might consider undesirable, Marcus tries to see the beauty. He loves natural processes and sees bloom and delight.
I love this passage from Hadot, who describes the purpose of the discipline of desire:
Humans are unhappy because they desire things which they consider good, but which they may either fail to obtain or else lose; and because they try to avoid things which they consider as evils, but which are often inevitable. The reason is that these apparent goods and evils-wealth and health, for example, or on the contrary poverty and sickness-do not depend on us. Thus, the exercise of the discipline of desire will consist in gradually renouncing these desires and aversions, so that we may finally desire only that which does depend on us-in other words, moral good-and may avoid only that which depends on us-in other words, moral evil. That which does not depend on us is to be considered as indifferent, which means that we are not to introduce any preferential order among such things, but accept them as willed by the will of universal Nature, which Epictetus sometimes designates by the term "gods" in general. To "follow the gods" means to accept their will, which is identical with the will of universal Nature (I, 12, 8; I, 20, I 5). The discipline of desire thus has as its object the passions (pathe), or the emotions which we feel when events present themselves to us. (Citadel p. 87)
Old age and death is nothing to fear. A large portion of my life was lived in a bit of sadness because being the youngest in a large family, I knew my parents would be too old to travel and see my children grow up. As a young child and teenager, I often went on trips with my parents to visit my siblings and their children, knowing full well that my parents would most likely not be able to do the same for my children. Now that that day is here, I no longer am sad. I take opportunities to visit them and we FaceTime with my parents so they can visit my kids. I love my fate and try to see the beauty of my well-aged parents. I know several people and close friends who lost their parents to death at a much younger age. I simply try to be grateful now for what I can enjoy.
(See also Citadel p. 55, 168-169, 259)
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