Today I remembered to take my own advice and brought a book with me to the soccer fields. There were a few things on my mind that I wanted to spend some time in thought on. After a quick thought I put my copy of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius into the pocket of my cargo shorts and I was off. Not gonna lie, I was pretty excited to find that the book was just the right size!
Instead of just going back to where I’d left off the last time I figured I’d test fate and skim a few random pages to see what, if anything, stuck a chord. Within a couple of minutes I ran into what I was looking for and then some! All within three pages was the ark I was searching for.
First off, there was a great bit of info discussing how we turn our obstacles and frustrations into fuel to improve and grow:
Our inward power, when it obeys nature, reacts to events by accommodating itself to what it faces – to what is possible. It needs no specific material. It pursues its own aims as circumstances allow; it turns obstacles into fuel. As a fire it overwhelms what would have quenched a lamp. What’s thrown on top of the conflagration is absorbed, consumed by it – and makes it burn still higher.
Shortly afterwards Marcus shared an interesting thought that helped me remember to seek out those moments of solitude. Not only that, but I was reminded of how to find that tranquility I’ve found on vacations in the past. Obviously those are a no go as of now, but there are still ways I can utilize my vacation memories in very positive ways:
People try to get away from it all – to the country, to the beach, to the mountains. You always wish that you could too. Which is idiotic: you can get away from it anytime you like.
By going within.
Nowhere you can go is more peaceful – more free of interruptions – than your own soul. Especially if you have other things to rely on. An instant’s recollection and there it is: complete tranquility. And by tranquility I mean a kind of harmony.
So keep getting away from it all – like that. Renew yourself. But keep it brief and basic. A quick visit should be enough to ward off all and send you back ready to face what awaits you.
I took a page out of his playbook, put the bookmark in place, and closed the book. I closed my eyes, drew in a deep breath, and thought about being in Alaska. I brought to mind the moment when we were sitting on the beach, watching the sun slowly go down over the mountains behind Resurrection Bay. Talk about inner peace!
When I came back to reality I opened up the book and went back to reading. This next one hit home as I thought about some of the thought processes I’ve recently had related to politics and civil unrest. I’ve been frustrated often and have complained more than I should. In reading this it reminded me to take a deep breath. As I read later as well I considered my thoughts as of late and wondered if I would have the same if I knew my last day of life were tomorrow. Absolutely not. So, if tomorrow is promised no one, why am I worried and complaining about something out of my control? How foolish and wasteful of the precious gift was all have been given? The gift? Today. Now. The present.
What’s there to complain about? People’s misbehavior? But take into consideration:
That rational beings exist for one another;
That doing what’s right sometimes requires patience;
That no one does the wrong thing deliberately;
And the number of people who have feuded and envied and hated and fought and died and been buried;
…and keep your mouth shut.
I was about to stop reading after that last line as my brain was reaching capacity. As I’ve admitted to, I have “Shiny Syndrome” and I caught something shiny on the next page. Highlighted from one of the many past readings of this books was the following:
Choose not to be harmed – and you won’t feel harmed.
Don’t feel harmed – and you haven’t been.
Bingo! There’s the money! I have control over only one thing in my life, how I view the world around me. I cannot control the events of the world, the thoughts of others, or anything along those lines. What I can control is how I react to, respond to, and interpret those outside factors.
Once I pieced everything back together I realized how some of the difficult decisions and situations in my life have all had one very critical and important common theme… they all have made me stronger. I would not be who I am today without the adversity I have faced. I am grateful for each of those moments. While they have hurt in the moment they have been the source of all strength.
Today I’m thankful for the timeless wisdom of Marcus Aurelius. The tremendous impact he has had on me and so many others since his life is overwhelming and inspiring.