Sunday, August 20, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B5:1

At break of day, when you are reluctant to get up, have this i thought ready to mind: 'I am getting up for a man's work. Do I still then resent it, if I am going out to do what I was born for, the purpose for which I was brought into the world? Or was I created to wrap myself in blankets and keep warm?' 'But this is more pleasant.' Were you then born for pleasure - all for feeling, not for action? Can you not see plants, birds, ants, spiders, bees all doing their own work, each helping in their own way to order the world? And then you do not want to do the work of a human being - you do not hurry to the demands of your own nature. 'But one needs rest too.' One does indeed: I agree. But nature has set limits to this too, just as it has to eating and drinking, and yet you go beyond these limits, beyond what you need. Not in your actions, though, not any longer: here you stay below your capability.

The point is that you do not love yourself - otherwise you would love both your own nature and her purpose for you. Other men love their own pursuit and absorb themselves in its performance to the exclusion of bath and food: but you have less regard for your own nature than the smith has for his metal-work, the dancer for his dancing, the money-grubber for his money, the exhibitionist for his little moment of fame. Yet these people, when impassioned, give up food and sleep for the promotion of their pursuits: and you think social action less important, less worthy of effort?

Perhaps one of the most oft-quoted passages from Marcus - at least from my perspective.

Our nature is such that we get up each day and work.  We perform work on our own; we work with those we love; we work with those who are grumpy; we work with what life throws at us each and every day.

We who strive to live philosophically, ought to have as much love for our work as those who are entirely consumed in their professions.  People who are so passionate about what they do, they forego sleep and food.  As a prokopton, we too ought to have as much passion about our trek on the path to moral greatness.

1 comment:

  1. I love this but oh man is it nice to stay in those blankets warmed and to have a few hours of just no demands!