Each of us is pulled by our lower nature and wants to avoid suffering and struggle and instead feel pleasure and comfort whenever possible. This holds true especially in the early mornings when we find ourselves under the spell of sweet and deep slumber. Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius was not an exception.
At the beginning of Book 5 in Meditations, Marcus has the following conversation with himself — a dialogue between his lower and higher self that we can all easily relate to:
“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?’
—But it’s nicer here….
So you were born to feel ‘nice’? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?”
Marcus reminds himself that like other living beings who went about doing their respective tasks without resistance, putting the world in order to the best of their abilities, he too had to be equally willing to do his job as a human being.
Marcus further writes:
“You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you.”
Our true nature, Marcus emphasizes, is to live a life of selfless service — to help others and make our highest contribution to the world. Any resistance to getting out of bed and fulfilling this inherent purpose is, therefore, a negation of our nature as well as an indication of a lack of self-love.
The Stoics were big proponents of living in accordance with nature. Every creature on the planet is serving a purpose. And we, human beings, are not exempt from this rule regardless of our social and economic status.
“We all work in the warehouse of nature,” bestselling author and modern Stoic Ryan Holiday explains, “Every single lifeform is serving and working, working and serving. It’s our duty not only as human beings but especially as Stoics, to keep this in mind when we feel like sleeping in or not contributing. Every day, we must remember to do our part for the world. To fail in that endeavor is to go against nature itself, and to take the gift of being human for granted. The Stoics would, of course, disagree with the former and the latter.”
Make sure you get a copy of “Meditations by Marcus Aurelius | Main Ideas & Key Takeaways”, a part of the Snapshorts series in your favorite format.
- Book: https://books2read.com/snapshort-meditations
- Audio program: https://www.chirpbooks.com/audiobooks/meditations-main-ideas-key-takeaways-by-parth-sawhney
- Video course: https://skl.sh/37f4s78 [Get Skillshare Premium free for 1 month].
Also, check out 'Daily Stoicism' here: https://books2read.com/daily-stoicism