A Meditation on Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, translated by Gregory Hayes

I read a lot of Stoic philosophy this season. I started with daily reading of the Daily Stoic blog, which led me to Letters from a Stoic by Seneca, then Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and the latter really struck me. I haven’t finished it, but I find myself going back to it frequently and making margin notes. That’s the thing about philosophy books is that after a while it’s often beating a dead horse. A thing I go back to all the time is his quote: 

“The world is nothing but change. Our life is only perception.” 

What I perceive as victim behavior is a pattern. I have days, like everyone else, that are A+ Days—where I’m managing my health both mental and physical, my behaviors as father and husband, my reactions as a writer and employee, and on those days I’m at my most creative. But usually what follows is a victim day. Where the grade for the previous day slides completely backwards, cut in half, or a downright failure on every level. I’m floundering, flustered, and FINE. My days frequently alternate. Last week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were victim days. Tuesday, Thursday, and yesterday were very good days in fact—and I know that’s my pattern. My perception. So, I’m trying to change my perceptions of this behavior, this attrition back to the norm of getting lost in the woods and staying on the path.

It’s funny, I started reading Drew Magary’s second novel, The Hike, this season on my Kindle and it’s exactly about the last essay of the spring season on this blog —staying on the creator’s path but instead if you get drawn off you die. The main character, Ben, is frequently chased by two men wearing dog faces for masks. It’s like a twisted Alice in Wonderland about a husband going for a walk in the woods and trying to get back to his family. It’s scary how good it is and applies to where my life is right now. It seems like everything I read now is the exact right thing that should be reading in the moment. It’s good. A real page turner. That Magary must be a professional or something. 

Recently, Magary wrote about his traumatic brain aneurism and that’s the trend of this past season—reading about traumatic brain injuries, because in a way I’ve just come to realize that my brain is not so much injured as not typical, or as psychologists and doctors say: “neurotypical.” 

Depending on what day it is in my pattern, I try to see this perception as a good or bad thing. It goes both ways. Like everyone, but what Meditations taught me—and I’m still trying to learn it is that—is this is just perception and if I believe it to be true if I respond to the Victim / Creator Hike Pattern as being true for my daily life—it becomes true. So I’m trying to modify my perception of The Hike, take ownership and responsibility for it, and recognize that it’s just perception but it’s my job as a human being to respond to it appropriately. 

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