Meditation: Book 3.14

Poetry 1 min read


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Don't be side tracked
nor hold onto old words
you wrote in your diaries
in hopes that someday
in your old age
you may find meaning
in some other
seemingly noble person’s life.

Don’t get stuck in the passages,
caught in fancy quotes
of philosophical folks who have passed.
Saying how great they must have been
to avoid bitterness and
count every burden they bore
as good fortune.


Sprint to the unique goal
you know you have given
your life.

The one, which in solitude you
enthusiastically hold—
the finish line
to which you come out
to collaborate
with all Nature to create.

Run straight for it.

And save yourself
while you still have time

while you still have this life.

And you will find

in ages to come
— not that it matters
but you will become

the noble one
of which the educated
for that future age
will write.

Stop jumping off the track. You don’t have time to reread your diaries, or the lives of the ancient Greeks and Romans, or the passages from their writings that you’ve collected for your old age. Throw off vain hope and sprint to the finish. If you care about yourself at all, come to your own aid while there’s still time.

Marcus Aurelius, Antoninus, M. A., Hicks, C. S., & Hicks, D. V. (2002). Book 3.14. In The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of the Meditations. Scribner.

Don’t be sidetracked anymore! You’re not going to read your notebooks, or your accounts of ancient Roman and Greek history, or the commonplace books you were saving for your old age.37 Head straight for your final goal and be your own savior, if you care for yourself, by abandoning vain hopes for the future while you still can.

Aurelius, M., & Waterfield, R. (2021). Book 3.14. Meditations: The Annotated Editions. Basic Books, Hachette Book Group.

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