Thursday, January 1, 2009

An Old Resolution

Lying abed on New Year's morning, I will make a valiant attempt to call these words to mind:

"In the morning when thou risest unwillingly, let this thought be present - I am rising to the work of a human being. Why then am I dissatisfied if I am going to do the things for which I exist and for which I was brought into the world? Or have I been made for this, to lie in the bed-clothes and keep myself warm? - But this is more pleasant - Dost thou exist then to take thy pleasure, and not at all for action or exertion? Dost thou not see the little plants, the little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees working together to put in order their several parts of the universe? And art thou unwilling to do the work of a human being, and dost thou not make haste to do that which is according to thy nature?"

Marcus Aurelius wrote these words while prosecuting his military campaign against the Germanic tribes in the 2nd century AD, which occupied his last years. Imagining the man forming these thoughts one morning in his tent near the Danube, as the trumpets woke the legionaries in his camp, with the weight of the world pressing down on him - how much easier it is for me to climb out of bed!

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