Monday, December 11, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B8:31-33

The court of Augustus - wife, daughter, grandsons, step-sons, sister, Agrippa, relatives, household, friends, Areius, Maecenas, doctors, diviners: an entire court dead. Go on now to other cases, where it is not the death of just one individual but of a whole family, like the Pompeys. And there is the inscription you see on tombstones: 'The last of his line'. Just think of all the anxiety of previous generations to leave behind an heir, and then one has to be the last. Here again the death of a whole family.

You must compose your life action by action, and be satisfied if each action achieves its own end as best can be: and no one can prevent you from that achievement. 'But there will be some external obstacle.' No obstacle, though, to justice, self-control, and reason. 'But perhaps some other source of action will be obstructed.' Well, gladly accept the obstruction as it is, make a judicious change to meet the given circumstance, and another action will immediately substitute and fit into the composition of your life as discussed.

Accept humbly: let go easily. 

Why all this talk of death?  Here again, in Book 8, passage 31, Marcus describes the end of an entire family blood-line.  Isn't this all so depressing?  It can be, if you let it.  Would you rather live this life with eyes wide open, knowing full well that you and anyone you know can die at any moment and embrace that fact?  Or would you rather bury your head and not ever think about death and then have your whole world come crashing down when dear, loved ones die around you?  In both cases, death is constant; death is a reality.  But those who are resilient and persist in life with a clear mind are those who accept the fact of death.  Marcus points out all the anxiety suffered in previous generations, when they didn't have to have that anxiety!  The results were the same whether they experienced anxiety or not.  Therefore, all that anxiety suffered was self-imposed.

All that we have now is the present and what we do with the present.  We can act now.  Therefore, carry on living your life action by action.  And be sure that you give each action proper and whole effort.  If you can achieve that, then you will have success.  And if there are obstacles preventing you from carrying out your intentions, accept it and adapt.  More succinctly, accept and pivot.  Another way will be shown and you may pursue that path.

Lastly, whatever fortune comes your way, accept it humbly.  Whatever fortune leaves you, let go of it quickly and easily.  Don't reach out or hold on to things that truly are not in your control.

(see also Citadel p. 47, 195-196, 237, 258, 270)

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