Willing acceptance

To do harm is to do yourself harm. To do an injustice is to do yourself an injustice—it degrades you. And you can also commit injustice by doing nothing. Objective judgement, now, at this very moment. Unselfish action, now, at this very moment. Willing acceptance—now, at this very moment—of all external events.

~ Marcus Aurelius


Avoiding unrighteousness

The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; For that runs faster than death. I am old and move slowly, and the slower runner has overtaken me, and my accusers are keen and quick, and the faster runner, who is unrighteousness, has overtaken them. And now I depart hence condemned by you to suffer the penalty of death, and they too go their ways condemned by the truth to suffer the penalty of villainy and wrong; And I must abide by my award—let them abide by theirs.

~ Socrates


Those who understand

The cucumber is bitter? Then throw it out. There are brambles in the path? Then go around them. That’s all you need to know. Nothing more. Don’t demand to know, “why such things exist.” Anyone who understands the world will laugh at you, just as a carpenter would if you seemed shocked at finding sawdust in his workshop, or a shoemaker at scraps of leather left over from work.

~ Marcus Aurelius



When you start something, don’t raise other people’s expectations. What is highly praised seldom measures up to expectations. Reality never catches up to imagination. It is easy to imagine something is perfect, and difficult to achieve it. […] Honorable beginnings should serve to awaken curiosity, not to heighten people’s expectations. We are much better off when reality surpasses our expectations, and something turns out better than we thought it would.

~ Baltasar Gracián



Nothing but what you get from first impressions. That someone has insulted you for instance. That —but not that it’s done you any harm. The fact that my son is sick —that I can see. But, “that he might die of it,” no. Stick with first impressions. Don’t extrapolate. And nothing can happen to you. Or extrapolate. From a knowledge of all that can happen in the world.

~ Marcus Aurelius



What is called peace by many is merely the absence of disturbance. True peace cannot be distrubed; It resides beyond the reach of disturbance.

~ Lost writings of Wu Hsin


Sometimes I look stuff up

Have you seen this quote?

There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.

~ Homer

Honestly, that’s pretty sharp! There’s good wisdom about a few things packed in there: Picking your battles, perhaps; Knowing the seasons of things, the ages of Man and so forth; Setting managable goals or not tackling more than you can do in a day. That Homer guy with the wisdom!

Until you look it up, and it turns out to be just a throwaway phrase in a transition. Here, read the full paragraphs, XI.35-6 from the Oddyssey:

And Alcinous answered him, saying: ‘Odysseus, in no wise do we deem thee, we that look on thee, to be a knave or a cheat, even as the dark earth rears many such broadcast, fashioning lies whence none can even see his way therein. But beauty crowns thy words, and wisdom is within thee; and thy tale, as when a minstrel sings, thou hast told with skill, the weary woes of all the Argives and of thine own self. But come, declare me this and plainly tell it all. Didst thou see any of thy godlike company who went up at the same time with thee to Ilios and there met their doom? Behold, the night is of great length, unspeakable, and the time for sleep in the hall is not yet; tell me therefore of those wondrous deeds. I could abide even till the bright dawn, so long as thou couldst endure to rehearse me these woes of thine in the hall.’ (35)

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him, saying: ‘My lord Alcinous, most notable of all the people, there is a time for many words and there is a time for sleep. But if thou art eager still to listen, I would not for my part grudge to tell thee of other things more pitiful still, even the woes of my comrades, those that perished afterward, for they had escaped with their lives from the dread warcry of the Trojans, but perished in returning by the will of an evil woman. (36)

~ Homer

It’s basically, “sure bro’, if you’re up for it, I’m game to stay up and tell you the story of . . .”

Question: Is the quote at the top better, or worse now that you know what Homer actually wrote? (Yes, fine, he was actually writing in ancient Greek, but my point stands.)

It’s a cliché that our favorite quotes say more about us, then they do about who we’re quoting. (Left unconsidered is what it says about me if I collect thousands of quotes.) But that cliché is the entire point of being intentionally reflective: I’m searching out new things, (quotes in this discussion,) and I’m thinking about what they might mean; What the original author or speaker might have meant; How that meaning might change over time from original source to my time, and how it might change for me during my life.

See? There is a time for many words, and a time for sleep!



The mind is a fortress

Remember that when it withdraws into itself and finds contentment there, the mind is invulnerable. It does nothing against its will, even if its resistance is irrational. And if its judgement is deliberate and grounded in logic…? The mind without passions is a fortress. No place is more secure. Once we take refuge there we are safe forever. Not to see this is ignorance. To See it and not seek safety means misery.

~ Marcus Aurelius