Enough of this wretched, whining monkey life

Enough of this wretched, whining monkey life.

What’s the matter? Is any of this new? What is it you find surprising?

The purpose? Look at it.

The material? Look at that.

That’s all there is.

And the gods? Well, you could try being simpler, gentler. Even now.

A hundred years or three. . . . No difference.

[Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 9.37]

A glorious reputation handed down by leaves

If you’ve immersed yourself in the principles of truth, the briefest, most random reminder is enough to dispel all fear and pain:

. . . leaves that the wind
Drives earthward; such are the generations of men.

Your children, leaves.

Leaves applauding loyally and heaping praise upon you, or turning around and calling down curses, sneering and mocking from a safe distance.

A glorious reputation handed down by leaves.

All of these “spring up in springtime” — and the wind blows them all away. And the tree puts forth others to replace them.

None of us have much time. And yet you act as if things were eternal — the way you fear and long for them. . . .

Before long, darkness. And whoever buries you mourned in their turn.

[Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 10.34]

I walk through what is natural

I walk through what is natural, until the time comes to sink down and rest. To entrust my last breath to the source of my daily breathing, fall on the source of my father’s seed, of my mother’s blood, of my nurse’s milk. Of my daily food and drink through all these years. What sustains my footsteps, and the use I make of it — the many uses.

[Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 5.4]

Don’t be distracted. Keep walking.

If an action or utterance is appropriate, then it’s appropriate for you. Don’t be put off by other people’s comments and criticism. If it’s right to say or do it, then it’s the appropriate thing for you to do or say.

The others obey their own leads, follow their own impulses. Don’t be distracted. Keep walking. Follow your own nature, and follow Nature — along the road they share.

[Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 5.3]