Wednesday, May 28, 2008

From Marcus Aurelius's Meditations

As he took examples of the good in life from others, so may I take them too:

Decency and a mild temper.

Integrity and manliness.

Generosity, simplicity of living, avoidance of the habits of the pampered.

To learn from good teachers, and to hold this at high value.

To tolerate pain and feel few needs; to work with my own hands and mind my own business; to be deaf to malicious gossip.

To avoid empty enthusiasms; to tolerate plain speaking and have an affinity for philosophy.

To want betterment of my character, not to be seduced by the music of rhetoric, and to want the same. To not deliver my own moral sermons or to paint a glorified picture of the ascetic; to avoid pretentious language, and to write and speak in an unaffected style. To offer ready conciliation with those who have taken or given offence, as soon as they are willing to join me. To read carefully, and not take comfort in my own superficial thoughts or those of others.

Moral freedom, and to be guided by reason. To stay steady, not having my character be molded by the facile hands of circumstance. To be patient in explanation and in listening to the explanation of others.

A kindly disposition and an intuitive concern for my friends. Tolerance of both ordinary people and the extremely opinionated.

Not to leap on mistakes or to pedantically correct those who make inconsequential errors.

To see and understand the effect of suspicion, caprice, and hypocrisy in managing others.

Love of family, truth, and justice. To value freedom and equality, philosophy, beneficence, optimism, confidence, and frankness.

Self-mastery and a constancy to not be unduly affect by passing whims; good cheer in myriad circumstances; a balance of character, gentle and dignified; an uncomplaining energy for what needs to be done. Being well-intentioned in all I do. Never to be downcast or cringing, or brooding upon anger or suspicion. To be forgiving and truthful, and to choose rectitude. To never be belittled and to not consider myself superior to others.

Gentleness, and a firm adherence to decisions made after full consideration. No vain taste for so-called honor; stamina and perseverance; a ready willingness to listen to anyone with a proposal for the common good. To give common courtesy, to be focused and persistent in deliberation when such must be, to never be satisfied with first impressions or leaving a question prematurely. Foresight in long-term issues and unfussy control of details. To put little worth in acclamation or flattery, to be tolerant of criticism; to avoid superstitious fear and obsequious courting of the public opinion. To have a sober steadfastness, and no obsession with vulgar or newfangled tastes.
      To enjoy the comforts of life without pride nor apology, to not take them for granted nor regret their absence. Not to be a fraud, impostor, or pedant, but rather to strive for a mellow wisdom and mature experience, able to take charge of my own affairs.
      To have a high regard for genuine philosophers, yet to have no hard words for others. To be sociable and have a sense of humor, though not taken to excess; sensible care of my body, neither vain nor valetudinarian, but neither neglectful, so that a healthy constitution leaves little need for doctors or medicines.
      To have a ready, ungrudging deference to those with some special ability, and to support those with a talent in a field. To resume life and work quickly, vigorously after any illness or pain. To not live an unduly secretive life.
      To not be consumed by care of comforts or building houses or acquiring possessions; to not be particular about food or clothing, or youthful beauty.
      To not be harsh, relentless, or impetuous; to not panic but rather treat everything with its own allotted time and thought, unhurried, organized, vigorous, and consistent in all. To regulate abstinences and enjoyments where some may not have the discipline to abstain nor the happiness to enjoy.
      Strength of character--endurance or sobriety as the case may be--and a full and indomitable spirit, in health and illness.

Good grandparents, good parents, good siblings, cousins, and fellows, good teachers, good family, relatives, and friends - to maintain peace with them all. To not be corrupted, nor feel the need to fancy outfits, jewelry, decorations, and the other trappings of pomp, but to maintain the highest dignity in whatsoever station may fall to me.
      To live life in accordance with nature and the common good.
      To give thanks for health, mind, those who love me, my fellows, and fortune's favor.