The rational soul

Characteristics of the rational soul: Self-perception, self-examination, and the power to make of itself whatever it wants. … It surveys the world and the empty space around it, and the way it’s put together. It delves into the endlessness of time to extend its grasp and comprehension of the periodic births and rebirths that the world goes through. It knows that those who came after us will see nothing different, that those who came before us saw no more than we do, and that anyone with forty years behind him and eyes in his head has seen both past and future—both alike.

~ Marcus Aurelius


Forge on ahead

Why all this guesswork? You can see what needs to be done. If you can see the road, follow it. Cheerfully, without turning back. If not, hold up and get the best advice you can. If anything gets in the way, forge on ahead, making good use of what you have on hand, sticking to what seems right. (The best goal to achieve, and the one we fall short of when we fail.)

~ Marcus Aurelius


Actions and perceptions

Operatics, combat and confusion. Sloth and servility. Every day they blot out those sacred principles of yours—which you day-dream thoughtlessly about, or just let slide. Your actions and perceptions need to aim: at accomplishing practical ends; at the exercise of thought; at maintaining a confidence founded on understanding. An unobtrusive confidence—hidden in plain sight.

When will you let yourself enjoy straightforwardness? Seriousness? Or understanding individual things—their nature and substance, their place in the world, their life span, their composition, who can possess them, whose they are to give and to receive?

~ Marcus Aurelius


And speaking of cognitive biases

Confirmation bias is one of my faves. You know, where you suddenly notice all the other cars like yours when you buy one, or spot coincidences from which you draw an [erroneous] causal conclusion. I know right? Screw you cobbled-together-brain! But this coincidence can’t just be a coincidence:

I’ve been reading-around my copy of The Daily Stoic for about 5 years now. Each page of the book is for a specific date. I long-ago got sick of lugging the book around, so I photographed every page, and loaded them into my personal productivity software. For five years, I’ve had annually repeating todos with the day’s image attached. (Yes, it was a few hours of work to set up 365 todo’s, with “recurs every year on the same date,” and an attached image. Yes, it was absolutely worth it.) So every year, on the same date, the same photo of the same page of the Daily Stoic comes up for me to read. (Craig-level crazy: The image for February 29 is attached to the todo for February 28 and I read it every year.) Finally, you need to know that only a small percentage of the Daily Stoic entries quote from Marcus Aurelius’s, Meditations.

Recently, I bought a fresh, hardcover of my favorite translation of Aurelius’s Meditations. (My paperback copy of this same translation is mangled and marked up, and the typography isn’t as spiffy.) I photographed each page, and set it on recurring todos. This was slightly more complicated because it’s not a page-for-each-date. I simply counted the images and made the todo’s recur that often. So each day a page comes up, but it’s not the same page on the same date each year. (There are 139 pages of content, so I’m reading Meditations 2+ times per calendar year.) For added complexity, the modern book is comprised of Aurelius’s 12 original books; Each was a long scroll on which he wrote entries in sequence. What’s on each page of the modern book is simply determined by book layout: It might be Aurelius’s original book 4, entries 11 and 12, or it might have part of an entry continued from the previous page, or an entry which is cut short that runs to the next page. Sure, it’s messy to try to read a book a-page-a-day if it wasn’t designed that way, but it works, and I get to visit Marcus each day.

That’s the setup. Here’s the coincidence…

Today I hit a Daily Stoic entry that quotes Meditations. The page that’s up for reading in my sequence from Meditations, CONTAINS THE QUOTED PASSAGE.


After looking around suspiciously… “Am I on Candid Camera?” After looking up suspiciously… I decided I better blog about this.




Epithets for yourself: Upright. modest. Straightforward. Sane. Cooperative. Disinterested.

Try not to exchange them for others. And if you should forfeit them, set about getting them back. Keep in mind that “sanity” means understanding things—each individual thing—for what they are. And not losing the thread. And “cooperation” means accepting what nature assignes you—accepting it willingly. And “disinterest” means that the intelligence should rise about the movements of the flesh—the rough and the smooth alike. Should rise about fame, above death, and everything like them.

~ Marcus Aurelius


Get a move on

Do what nature demands. Get a move on—if you have it in you—and don’t worry whether anyone will give you credit for it. And don’t go expecting Plato’s Republic; be satisfied with even the smallest progress, and treat the outcome of it all as unimportant.

~ Marcus Aurelius


The view from above

To see them from above: The thousands of animal herds, the rituals, the voyages on calm or stormy seas, the different ways we come into the world, share it with one another, and leave it. Consider the lives led once by others, long ago, the lives to be led by others after you, the lives led even now, in foreign lands. how many people don’t even know your name. How many will soon have forgotten it. How many offer you praise now—and tomorrow, perhaps, contempt.

~ Marcus Aurelius


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