You Must Stand Straight, Not Be Straightened

Essays 1 min read
“Don’t act grudgingly, selfishly, without due diligence, or to be a contrarian. Don’t overdress your thought in fine language. Don’t be a person of too many words and too many deeds. . . . Be cheerful, not wanting outside help or the relief others might bring. A person needs to stand on their own, not be propped up.”
~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 3.5
man standing on road
Photographer: Anthony Tori | Source: Unsplash

In The Daily Stoic April 13th entry, Marcus Aurelius speaks about the identity he wants to hold while being an emperor.

What "stands out" (no pun intended) are those last two lines.

Here are two other translations.

Be joyful within and in need of no external assistance or peace provided by others. In other words, you must stand straight, not be straightened.
Show by a cheerful look that you don't need the help or comfort of others. Standing up-not propped up.

While these lines are left up to interpretation because we weren’t there in the tent as the Emperor penned them, nor do we know the context, I find his last line quite intriguing.

Notice What the Emperor Demands of Himself

From an early age, Aurelius demanded the most of himself, like his Stoic teachers Apollonius, Rusticus, and Maximus taught him to.

In the next line, he might be referring to being under the influence of drugs when he says 'joyful without external assistance.'

However, the last idea stands out the most to me.

🔴 Here, he urges himself as a virtuous man to have energy and vigor to stand on his own. Instead of being propped up as a tired person, sloth or drunkard who can't carry his own weight (or like 'Weekend at Bernies'.)

Popz and I ‘standing’ in Paris on a drizzly morning.

Note to Self about Something As Simple as Standing

Whether you drink alcohol or get drunk doesn't matter to me.

Rather, I just found it interesting that the ruling Emperor would speak about something so simple and small as how he wants to stand in his private letters.

🔴 Stand. Bare you own weight with dignity.

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