Thursday, January 25, 2018

Commentary on Meditations: B10:23-25

Always have clear in your mind that 'the grass is not greener' elsewhere, and how everything is the same here as on the top of a mountain, or on the sea-shore, or wherever you will. Plato's words you will find directly apposite: 'walling himself a fold on a mountain, and milking his flock when they bleat'.

What is my directing mind to me? What am I turning it into now, what use am I making of it? Is it drained of intelligence? Is it divorced and broken off from society? Is it so interfused and welded to the flesh that it sways with its tides?

A slave running from his master is a fugitive. Law is our master: the law-breaker is therefore a fugitive. But also in the same way pain, anger, or fear denote refusal of some past, present, or future order from the governor of all things - and this is law, which legislates his lot for each of us. To feel fear, then, pain or anger is to be a fugitive.

Live in the here and now.  At this spot in time and space, you may be tempted to think that so-and-so has it better or that you wish you lived a 1000 miles from where you are, or that you wish it were Christmas or Summer.  The grass is not greener on the other side.  On the other side, you will find other, different problems.  The local high school basketball team loved to gripe and complain about the head coach last year.  For my part, I thought he ran a great program (won a state championship in 2006, runner up in 2007).  I didn't "get" the complaining.  Then he resigned and went to coach at another school.  The boys were gleeful.  This year, the new coach is an utter disaster.  Boys are quitting right and life and more than once, I've heard expressed they wished the old coach were back.

In chapter 24 of Book 10, Marcus rhetorically asks what he's doing with his mind.  We can pose the same questions to ourselves.  Are you using your intelligence or mindlessly playing games or scrolling through social media?  Are you socially engaged or disengaged from other people?  Do you spend time and effort and thought fulfilling desires?  The answers ought to be insightful.

If you are focused on virtue and you experience fear, pain or anger, then use those feelings to self-correct.  However, if you are fearful of death or pain or angry at not getting your way with food or money, then you may be focusing on the wrong things.

(see also Citadel p. 57, 290)

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