I read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, translated by Gregory Hays on January 10, 2024

Reading Meditations was deeply fascinating because Marcus Aurelius (the last emperor of the Pax Romana) did not write for an audience, but for himself, “as a means of practicing and reinforcing his own philosophical convictions.” In this book, we are given a window into a different kind of worldview than what we might be accustomed. It is so different that almost a third of the version that I read was an introduction written by Gregory Hays, which was helpful, though went over my head at times.

Marcus is focused on controlling what he can and not being controlled by what he cannot. He constantly reminds himself of his own insignificance in “the infinite time before” and “the equally unbounded time that follows” in order to focus on what is important. I believe the following quote to be a microcosm of the way Marcus sees the world. He is expressing gratitude that he had less talent in some areas of his life so he could focus on more pressing endeavors.

“That I wasn’t more talented in rhetoric or poetry, or other areas. If I’d felt that I was making better progress I might never have given them up.”

Ultimately, this book is making me consider writing down what I think is important in the grand scheme of life in a way similar to Marcus.