I’ve been continuing to read Book 9 of Marcus Aurelius Meditations this morning. In it, he’s concerned about change, and gaining perspective on things that we try and control:

All things are in process of change. You yourself are ceaselessly undergoing transformation, and the decay of some of yourparts, and so is the whole universe.

It can seem a little morbid to think about death, but doing so gives us the ability to see how pathetic our everyday concerns can be:

Soon earth will cover us all. Then in time earth, too, will change; later, what issues from this change will itself in turn incessantly change, and so again will all that then takes its place, even unto the world’s end. To let the mind dwell on these swiftly rolling billows of change and transformation is to know a contempt for all things mortal.

Importantly, and almost 2,000 years before psychoanalysis, Marcus Aurelius talks about how our concerns and anxieties are of our own creating. And, because they are of our own creation, we are in control of them:

Many of the anxieties that harass you are superfluous: being but creatures of your own fancy, you can rid yourself of them and expand into an ampler region, letting your thought sweep over the entire universe, contemplating the illimitable tracts of eternity, marking the swiftness of change in each created thing, and contrasting the brief span between birth and dissolution with the endless aeons that precede the one and the infinity that follows the other.

There’s many reasons that I do my daily reading, including ‘settling’ myself and ordering my mind for the day. But another is certainly to define a series of books to introduce my children to during their teenage years and early adulthood. I can imagine Meditations being top of that list.

Image by Aaron Burden