Today’s wisdom is from Marcus Aurelius and Meditations. I’ve been delving into this book lately, and it’s been delivering in spades: the advice a sage, transported to the postmodern world. The following quote is relevant to all of us:
The art of true living is more like a wrestler’s, than a dancer’s practice.
So very true.
You’re fighting a war. The sooner you realize this, the better. And you’re surrounded by people that want to destroy you…to see your happiness lying in waste. They despise your happy wife, your sexual pleasure, and your healthy children.
Who are these people? A miserable lot, one and all. They stare at you from the television screen, watching your every move. They wait for you in the pages of a newspaper, or the darkness of a movie theater. They hang a seditious bait in front of your face, hoping that you’ll grab it. They can only be satisfied when your life is living hell…much like theirs.
So you must rise, my soldier. Kick out of the chokehold! Break free of the leg lock! You’re a wrestler…a grappler in the game of life. You strive for a championship belt? Then make it a reality today! Know every moment is a battle…every second a firefight.
Marcus Aurelius was a sage. He gave advice on many practical matters, including composition. Here’s one of my favorites:
That I did not use to walk about the house in my long robe, nor to do any such things. Moreover I learned of him to write letters without any affectation, or curiosity; such as that was, which by him was written to my mother from Sinuessa: and to be easy and ready to be reconciled, and well pleased again with them that had offended me, as soon as any of them would be content to seek unto me again. To read with diligence; not to rest satisfied with a light and superficial knowledge, nor quickly to assent to things commonly spoken of. (from Meditations).
Finding a writing style is difficult. We’re surrounded by some many voices in this regard. And it’s easy to lose our path…to mimic the phrasing or wording of others. So what’s the solution?
Be direct and to the point: i.e. write without affectation. By doing so, you’ll capture the normal pattern of speech. You’ll directly address the reader (as opposed to having your literary representative speak to them).
And when it comes to reading…do it with diligence! Another nice reminder. It’s so easy to skim, to skip, etc. As the modern acronym goes, TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read). But what do we gain, really? It’s better to read five pages with passion than fifty with ambivalence.
Meditations is a book for all times. It’s a Bible of practical philosophy. And it becomes more relevant with each passing day…