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

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Impressions

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

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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

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Embracing the obstacles

External things are not the problem. It’s your assessment of them. Which your can erase right now. If the problem is something in your own character, who’s stopping you from setting your mind straight? And if it’s that you’re not doing something you think you should be, why not just do it? —But here are insuperable obstacles. Then it’s not a problem. The cause of your inaction lies outside you. —But how can I go on living with that undone? Then depart, with a good conscience, as if you’d done it, embracing the obstacles too.

~ Marcus Aurelius

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Only the present

Don’t let your imagination be crushed by life as a whole. Don’t try to picture everything bad that could possibly happen. Stick with the situation at hand, and ask, “Why is this so unbearable? Why can’t I endure it?” You’ll be embarrassed to answer. Then remind yourself that past and future have no power over you. Only the present—and even that can be minimized. Just mark off its limits. And if your mind tries to claim that it can’t hold out against that… well, then, heap shame upon it.

~ Marcus Aurelius

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Mind your own

Not to support this side or that in chariot-racing, this fighter or that in the games. To put up with discomfort and not make demands. To do my own work, mind my own business, and have no time for slanderers.

~ Marcus Aurelius, med. 1.5

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I recently had a run-in— well, to be accurate, I drove off the road… But I’ll call it a “run-in” with reality. (No injuries, no serious damage, just a bit of unexpected adventure in what should have been a boring car ride.)

First, as I touch-typed that previous sentence, I ended that parenthetical note by typing, “…a boring car die.)” If that’s not a Freudian slip, (where you mean one thing but say your mother,) I don’t know what it is. I stared at it for a moment and then corrected it, as it now appears above. Driving off the road didn’t scare me, but it has clearly been rattling around my thoughts recently.

Second, after more thought in the days after: Yeah, I’m ok with what I’m up to these days. Doing my own work. Working on minding my own business. Not making demands. Putting up with discomfort. …and that last one is not a passive-aggressive, “that’s ok I’ll just sit here in the dark.” (How many grandmothers does it take to change a light bulb? in case you didn’t catch that.) I mean simply putting up with discomfort; it’s hot, I’m sweaty and the gnats are annoying, sort of discomfort.

Anyway, I’ve just added this wonderful reminder from Aurelius to my collection of daily reflection prompts. There were 57, and now there are 58. It also becomes quote number 652 in my growing collection. If you’re curious about how these posts are created, it’s a mixture of scheduled posts and daily writing. Instead of scheduling this one out somewhere in the future—which does have the advantage of surprising me when they do pop out… Instead, I’m opting to drop it here to give me some room for more thoughts.

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