The Occasional Stoic – Marcus Aurelius and Living in the Moment

Courtesy of Daily Stoic – Marcus Aurelius

“Even were you to live three thousand years or thrice ten thousand, remember that no one loses any other life than this which he is living, nor lives any other than this which he is losing. Thus the longest and the shortest come to the same thing. For the present is equal for all, and what is passing is therefore equal: thus what is being lost is proved to be barely a moment. For a man could lose neither past nor future; how can one rob him of what he has not got? Always remember, then, these two things: one, that all things from everlasting are of the same kind, and are in rotation; and it matters nothing whether it be for a hundred years or for two hundred years or for an infinite time that a man shall behold the same spectacle; the other, that the longest-lived and the soonest to die have an equal loss; for it is the present alone of which either will be deprived, since (as we saw) this is all he has, and a man does not lose what he has not got.” [Meditations, Book II, Chapter 14, Marcus Aurelius]

I had a conversation today about the risk of thinking or planning too far into future that prevents one from recognizing the current blessings in our life and from living the life that makes us happy.

Too often I think people get caught up in pleasing others or trying to manufacture a future persona which in the end either becomes fruitless or does not meet the standard of the expected outcome. What I mean to say is this, if one focuses on what others expect or project onto us instead of making ourselves a primary focus, right now, there is no future self that will satisfy, which makes happiness an impossibility.

Why is it that we think so far in future? Why do people create these impossible life plans that are so over detailed that one hiccup makes the whole world fall down? My guess, outside sources.

If people could be seen by society as successful because they are happy and fulfilled no matter what their profession might be or how much money they make, living in the moment might be that much easier to accept.

While I’m unsure if the above quote is actually from John Lennon, it’s always given me the feels anyway. The idea of a person so free from society’s pressure to conform and only seeks to be happy in life is dream that I believe many people have but are too afraid to take hold of. Going against the norm is hardly ever comfortable especially when we don’t have support from those closest to us. Instead, we work hard to impress and show how productive we are in a sick society. We make lists and plans in order to navigate our way through so we never show anyone that we’re different, that long for more than superficial trappings.

My take away from Marcus Aurelius’ quote is that we need to understand that all we have… is right now, the only life we can live is our own and that there is no living if we don’t live for ourselves.

My mental musing of the day, be well.