Fearing change: Marcus Aurelius

Life is change.

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Scottsdale, Arizona. © Dave DuBay

From Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Frightened of change? What can exist without it? What’s closer to nature’s heart? Can you eat food without transforming it? (7.18) There is nothing bad in undergoing change — or good in emerging from it (4.42). What follows is always in affinity with what went before. Not a random collection of things, but harmonious and interconnected (4.45).

Have constant awareness that everything is born from change. The knowledge that there is nothing nature loves more than to alter what exists and make new things like it. All that exists is the seed of what will emerge from it. You think the only seeds are the ones that make plants or children? Go deeper (4.36).

Acquire the ability to see how all things change into one another. Apply it constantly. Use it to train yourself. Nothing is as conducive to spiritual growth (10.11).

Before long everything will be transformed, to rise like smoke or be dispersed in fragments (6.4). All substance is soon absorbed into nature, all that animates it soon restored to the logos, all trace of them soon covered over by time (7.10).

See human life for what it is. Smoke. Nothing. Especially when you recall that once things change they cease to exist for all eternity. Then why such turmoil? To live your brief life rightly, isn’t that enough? (10.31)

Think of the whole of existence, of which you’re the tiniest part, how brief and fleeting your appointed time is, and how small a role you play in universal fate (5.24). By contemplating this you can discard most of the junk that clutters your mind — things that exist only there — and clear out space for yourself (9.32, see also 12.32).

Give yourself a gift: the present moment. People out for posthumous fame forget that the generations to come will be the same annoying people they know now. And just as mortal. What does it matter to you what they say or think? (8.44)

Published by Dave DuBay

Dave is a Florida man. He blogs at https://fratresestoics.com. He's also at twitter.com/Dave_DuBay.

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