Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Save Yourself Some Pain

"You've endured countless troubles--all from not letting your ruling reason do the work it was made for--enough already!" (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 9.26)

There's this funny little feature on my computer called, "stickies." A little program that allows me to put "sticky notes" on my screen to remind myself to do something. I also have a pile of sticky notes, but use them to leave side notes on documents, reminders for someone else, so to speak.

Over a thousand years ago, Emperor Marcus Aurelius left himself something like a sticky note in the above quote. He was able to recognize when he might very well have been the cause of problems he was experiencing, so he left a note to remind himself that enough is enough.

There's this thing called a brain and that brain uses a thing called "reason." Specifically, "ruling reason." In other words, a line has been drawn--that's the rule. We might call it "conscience" which in itself is a fascinating word ("con"= "with" and "science" = "knowledge").

Save yourself some pain. Don't drive yourself nuts with groundless fears, things that have not happened. Living with anxiety leads to a stampede of mind--an unbridled, out of control herd of disjointed ideas. The outcome is frustration, sickness, even greed. And if you've gotten yourself into a painful situation, into trouble, there is no need to keep going. Stop. Resolve the situation, deal with the consequences, learn and don't be so foolish to do it again.

Foolishness is the bully that grabs the other kids hands and says, "stop hitting yourself!" Fight back!

Reason can keep one out of trouble. If one knows to do good and does not do it, then to him it is evil, "sin." 

Our brain functions according to design and conscience ("with knowledge") helps keep perspective on what is good. So save yourself some pain. 

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Live Well Where You Live

Yesterday's blog post about Anne Frank felt incomplete and it finally occurred to me that I missed an important element. I was so focused on the freedom of writing (journaling, blogging, keeping a diary) that I overlooked another key lesson implied in her quote. Here's what helped me realize my oversight:

"Wherever a person can live, there one can also live well; life is also in the demands of court, there too one can live well." (Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 5.16)

The thought came to me that Anne lived where she lived. For two years she had no choice. She could never leave her hiding place in The Secret Annex except in her imagination or on paper. The only people she could talk with were others in hiding as well. If they got along, they got along--but when they didn't, they didn't. So who was left to talk to but her diary?

The point is this: "Wherever a person can live, there one can also live well." Do your part to love and respect those with whom you live and work "in the demands of the court". Make and keep the peace whenever and however possible. Humility is a necessary ingredient for harmony. 

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Patient Paper

Anne Frank wrote, "Paper has more patience than people."

The Dutch Government issued a call for exiles to keep journals of their experiences and some think that Anne Frank's famous diary was her response to that call. Whatever her reason for writing, it is clear that she found a friend in a block of paper.

Anne needed someone to talk to, simple as that. Sure, she lived in close quarters with others but those relationships could only go so far. She did not write every day, but when she did, Anne expressed what was on her mind: her stress, her thoughts, her need to work out matters. She worked it out with a pen.

Paper is patient.
Paper listens.
Paper does not judge.
Paper understands.

Can one write electronically? Sure. There's something to the sound of clacking keys.

But the dance of a pen on paper, the swoosh and swirl of thought flowing through the ink--captivating.

It need not be legible.
It need not make sense.

Be mesmerized and soothed with the gentle scratching sound of patient paper, listening.

You've got a friend.

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