Tag Archives: Stoic

Change, As It Is

“It’s funny how people just won’t accept change.

As if nature itself — they’d prefer — rearranged…


If you have followed my writing for any stretch of time now, you will have noticed that most of my words dance with some form of change occurring in our lives (love, place, ideas, thoughts, wants, people, ourselves, etc.); reflection on how that change comes to be, observation on how it proceeds, and how it can hurt and or teach us something in its stay and its passing.

With this piece however, I want to try something else. I want to acknowledge from the beginning line that change is already set to happen, not to be shocked by this, and with this steadfastness, I want to try to be understanding, aware, welcoming and OK with that. To emulate the Stoics way of naming such practices, lets call this one: premeditatio mutatio, or premeditation of change.


I’m sitting here at my little brown desk in Beijing, China, typing away at an article that I hope to post soon, in a room that’s not mine and where I won’t be forever. I just poured myself a cup of coffee that I had heated just moments ago, and am now waiting for it to cool just enough so to drink from it. Sitting here, thinking of the words to say, only to delete a few which sounded right and then which didn’t, only to try again to maybe like their sound better and to continue on, with this line of thought and work I am also thinking of change and how I will meet it again, or rather how it is here always working, not behind the stage curtain, but apart of the same play as I, as all of us, always and forever.

I notice this now as it consumes my mind that I have always viewed change in a past tense sort of perspective. Never really having ever greeted it when it had arrived, only looking back on it after having noticed its supposed departure. And with this thought I realize that this line is wrong, but I will keep it here anyway as to track this thoughts progression. It’s not that we ever have or are even given the chance to greet change, or to say goodbye to it for that matter, either. Again, as said just a few lines up, in the paragraph above, change is always around, as active as the breath which keeps us alive, autonomic by the same nature.

This is not to say that things are ALWAYS changing, or that what we know now will not be the same as what we know tomorrow, but that little by little things are in fact ALWAYS changing, never stagnant, no matter the efforts of our wrestling with them to be here always, never to budge, never to fade.


The coffee is cooled enough now to drink it. A connection comes to me. The cooling of the coffee in a way describes what it is I am trying to say. The coffee cooled, just sitting there, in the same cup I had poured it into, without my influence and without my tampering. It changed, though not drastically or even visually noticeable to the degree of my vision, right in front of me as I was sitting here thinking of how to proceed with this piece, only moments having passed. And, not only did it cool, but it decayed, spiraled within its confines, sent steam into the air which faded, heated a circular area of the little brown desk of which it sat upon, became sweeter or more bitter due to the origin of it contents and the influence of the environment it now occupies, and so much more, again only moments having passed.

And, as I scan around the room at all of the inanimate objects surrounding me, none of them are the exact same as they were only moments ago. It sounds crazy I know, but it is true. I may not notice the changes visually, I may not be able to touch the changes or taste them, or to hear their movement, their transitioning from what they were to what they are, onto what they will be, but not one thing in this room, if left untouched, if not tampered with or influenced, would remain the same forever, and that shows further what I am attempting to say. Everything, all of this surrounding us, down to its biological level, is constantly changing, from one form on into another.


There’s a little bug in front of me now just weaving and hovering through the air only a small height above my desk and all that is positioned on-top it. And now that same bug is gone, away from my visual field. He could be behind me for all I know, because he is not making enough noise for me to hear, doing the same thing; just hovering or weaving. Or maybe its tired now and taking a rest on my shoulder, on the TV behind me, on the clothes rack, on anything. I look back. I don’t see the bug. But, I do see the city outside through my window. The bug is back. And now gone again. I look outside the window again. The world is moving. The cars seem to be gliding silently atop the road given that I cannot hear their rumbling-along from here, through the single paneled glass window, from this distance. Through that same window still, I see the newly sprung Spring leaves of the trees waving with the swaying wind. The bug returns, still weaving and hovering. Leaves again. A cough that I’ve had for a few days now barks, then fades. The coffee even cooler now, I notice as I go to drink from it again. I hear the person in the room directly behind the wall in front of me click his lights; on or off I do not know. The little fridge behind me to my left creates a noise. The bug returns. Gone again.


I left my desk for a moment and just returned, the thought of all this still with me. I’m going to move on now from noticing and attempt to get back to thinking.


Again, things don’t change as drastically as we expect them to. Not all the time at least. Sometimes they do, and we notice those, the big ones. They hurt us. Maybe some excite us. But, either way, they force change because we notice them. We don’t notice the smaller ones. The every day subtle changing of things largely goes unseen, unnoticed, unfelt, unbelieved. And because of this, when the big ones happen, though they have always gradually glaciered towards being, they catch us by surprise, and again they tend to hurt us. Some excite us maybe. Either way, they are demanding change, which they themselves will abide, but which we tend to argue with, reject and resist, and claim victim to their “harassment”.

This has always been my relationship with change. Though I myself, and others in my life who know me well, believe me to be open, understanding and even courageous with the changing tides of life, and though I am, maybe more so then I am not, they have always bothered me, changes.

I am unashamed to admit this. Even the exciting ones. Not just the ones that hurt. I’m a human and I like to know my surroundings. I like, and strive, to have some sense of comfort and security, gathering “resources” and stock piling “abundance”, whatever form that may be for the time and place and purpose, because they promise loyalty and steadfast protection. Even living a life thus far which disproves this, which has both shown and thrown me into states of scarcity and limitation, deprive and unknowing (I’m grateful for this ) we believe having protects us from the transitioning of things. It doesn’t. It never will.

This is not to say that having more so than not having doesn’t provide any type of benefit or worthwhile promising of pursuit for, but rather that having or not having, either one, doesn’t protect us from the every day subtle changing of things, and on towards their subsequent perceived-to-be colossal transitions, from what we know now onto what we don’t. With or without, nothing protects us from this.

But, is there anything about this that we need to be protected from? I think this is a better question to be asked and to be examined.


Premeditatio Mutatio, or again, the premeditation of change. In other words, the practice of noticing the subtle everyday changing of things, and the attempt to understand that things will not always be the same. Anything. Nothing.

Nothing which we as a species have monumentally constructed (cities, walls, infrastructure, systems, etc.). Nothing the world itself with all of its controlled and relaxed might has provided (terrain, environment, weather, resource,etc.). Nothing which the mind has attempted to maintain and or progress (religion, science, understanding, reality, etc.). Nothing which the universe itself contains (space, matter, limitation, unknown, etc.). Nothing about the vehicle which is our body nor the conductor of this vehicle, which is our mind. Nothing about anything remains the same, besides the only truth which has yet to be disproven; the changing of things.

So I revisit again, is there anything about this that we need to protection from?

I’m going to go close my eyes for a little while and allow my mind to just be. I will return to this later on.


It’s the next day.

I’m sitting at a coffee shop I have come to frequent quite a bit lately. The sun is burning the back of my neck as my head casts a shadow across the screen and keyboard of my computer. I like it here and I like this feeling. I won’t go into line by line detail of what I am about to share, but sitting here aware of it now, it is amazing, truly, just how many things have crossed my mind, have come and gone and influenced, since the beginning of this piece just yesterday, just about 24 hours ago exactly now.

Another example of the movement of things. Nothing is stagnant, even when they seem to be. Our thoughts, our beliefs, our understandings, everything which makes up the integrity of our contemplative consciousness, even this is in constant movement. Thoughts repeat, beliefs aren’t easily budged, understandings fight for their footing, but none are able to withstand or to go against the evolution of every moment, of everything within the confines of what we know as life and its moment by moment evolving. And, time doesn’t just evolve, but it fleets and it also continues. It may fleet for us, and for other living creatures, due to our ultimate demise, but time itself fleets from nothing. The mere fact that we will die, and that time will continue on its usual course, again supports the reality of change. We die, time evolves, and this is all manipulated in a moment by moment evolution, onward from now on into something else.

To regain traction, to get back to my proposed question from yesterday, I do not belief there to be anything we need to be protected from in the changing of things.


I stopped typing this and am just now revisiting it two days later, now. I am no longer at the coffee shop, but back at my little brown desk in the room I currently live. I had nothing else to say that day, but I feel now that I do and I hope to finish this piece and to move on to another, or to other projects of mine I need to work on.

To continue…

I do not believe there to be anything we need to be protected from in the changing of things.

I started reading a new book which I purchased just a day ago, ‘Awareness’ by Anthony De Mello, and in its reading came across the following quote:

“The first reaction is one of fear. It’s not that we fear the unknown. You can’t fear something that you do not know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known. That’s what you fear. “

It’s a powerful thought and its deeply true.

I am not, and I am sure the same for you reading this, afraid of what is to come. In the past I never was, and currently in the present I still am not. I was however, and again I would bet the same for you reading this, afraid of what I had lost, of the understanding which I had before the changing of things; of myself, of my environment, of others and of anything which made up my consciousness of which I was aware. The future doesn’t scare me and never has. Again, its always been the idea or the actual transitioning or realization that I had lost or had moved away, been pushed away, pulled away, fallen away, from a place of understanding, from one of knowing, to a place without either, and was scared to turn away and to proceed without them.

Another quote stuck with me from my reading:

“Because if you desire to change what is into what you think should be, you no longer understand.”

Yet again, powerful and deeply true.

By attempting to keep things the way they once were, our understanding of what is is unable to be. By yearning and focusing on what has been, we remove any possibility of understanding and of knowing what is. By hoping they still were, we are blinding ourselves from knowing that they are no longer, and of what is right now, this very moment, this existence.

But, what leads us to not wanting things to change? Why are we so against these transitions?


“All of our miseries are nothing but attachment.” — Osho

If there is nothing to fear in the changing of things due to our ignorance of what is to come, and if the past is an ever fleeting place of which we have nothing physically to grasp on to, attachment to once was is where our agony, our anxieties and our fears are born from.

Simply put, we hold on to things that once were but no longer are…

… and I do not know exactly why. I am sure there is someone out there who understands with greater depth the mechanism in our brain behind this, but I myself do not have the answer. What I do somewhat know, whether it be backed by proof or not, is that somewhere within our thinking brain, we are able to turn away from this and to cast our focus towards the ever present now. And, in my experience, this is done by noticing more of the moment to moment changing of things. By being more aware of the transitioning of life from one moment to its successor, and so on.

But, how?


Days have gone by now. I didn’t finish this piece by the first deadline I had set for myself. But, here I am, back at my little brown desk, sitting here drinking a perfectly tempered coffee in the morning hours of a clear-sky, Beijing day (I’m grateful for this). I have other places to be soon, but I want to be here now, working on this, so I am and, well, here we go.

Just above I stated that I didn’t have the answers as to why we hold on to things from the past, and I still don’t. I’m not necessarily looking for a version of this answer either at the moment, or even for the finishing of this piece. But, reading a post from a writer I like, which had within it a link directed to another post, a New Yorker article titled, ‘The Possibilian’, a piece by Burkhard Bilger focused on the near-death experience of David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and author, and what it taught him about the mysteries of time and the brain, I stumbled upon ideas which invigorated me to return to this thought.

“Time is this rubbery thing,” Eagleman said. “It stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, ‘Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,’ it shrinks up.” 

It’s an amazing article, one with great depth and a variety of insights, one which highlights topics ranging from near death experiences to a theme park ride coined SCAD (Suspended Catch Air Device) sending people free-falling from ungodly heights somewhere in the middle of Texas, from drummers and their superhero sense of time to the great Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan and how he gathered intel from throughout his empire. However, though it does not directly deal with what I am attempting to say within this piece, again, it did invigorate me and by doing so provided me with more knowledge to attempt to piece together and to say. What stuck out to me the most, with this work-in-progress held within my mind, was the concept of time and how we perceive it in certain moments.

Another quote:

“One of the seats of emotion and memory in the brain is the amygdala, he explained. When something threatens your life, this area seems to kick into overdrive, recording every last detail of the experience. The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. “This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,” Eagleman said—why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”

Re-read that last line. Here it is again:

…The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”

Though the piece at large and the quote above are speaking of time in terms of life-threatening scenarios, I believe this same phenomena could serve in our favor towards the awareness needed to acknowledge the moment by moment changes we are constantly subjected to, but also usually blinded to, and by doing so, lead us in the direction of better handling and experiencing the thing we all seem to fear the most; change.

Another quote:

“The best example of this is the so-called oddball effect—an optical illusion that Eagleman had shown me in his lab. It consisted of a series of simple images flashing on a computer screen. Most of the time, the same picture was repeated again and again: a plain brown shoe. But every so often a flower would appear instead. To my mind, the change was a matter of timing as well as of content: the flower would stay onscreen much longer than the shoe. But Eagleman insisted that all the pictures appeared for the same length of time. The only difference was the degree of attention that I paid to them. The shoe, by its third or fourth appearance, barely made an impression. The flower, more rare, lingered and blossomed, like those childhood summers.

Re-read the bolded line above. Here it is again…

…The only difference was the degree of attention that I paid to them.”

Hell, read it one more time…

…The only difference was the degree of attention that I paid to them.”

I’m not going to attempt to speculate here, or to turn these words or these findings into something that they are not. I’m not looking for a far out connection here. Instead, I’m saying something that we may all already innately know, which the example above proves, but which we are too lazy or too tired, too distracted, too asleep or too dead to apply the energy or the will needed to experience life in a different more engaged, more aware, more understood and accepted way, to tap into our moment by moment existence as it is rather than what we believe or wish it to be.

Simply put, life requires our attention. The more unfamiliar we view our lives, the more information our brain writes down, and the more slowly time seems to pass.

But, how do we make our lives more unfamiliar?

Remind yourself constantly that you know nothing, then look around.

I just did this right now while writing and I already feel more emerged from my smug sense of knowing and engaged with the vast and unknown world around me.

Try it, now…

Did your perception change?

If you say no, you’re lying to yourself. Or, you’re just not aware. You’re not ready to be awake. You’re still asleep in the dream of knowing.

Keep trying.


But how does this apply to change? What is it exactly I am trying to say?

I started this piece unknowing of where exactly I was to take it or where it would, in the typing of its words, take me. All I knew from the beginning is I wanted to view change as inevitable, or rather as infinitesimal, as occurring moment by moment despite our awareness of its activity. Having gone back and re-read each line, from beginning to end, I notice that I have attempted to fulfill this action by bouncing back and forth between thought and observation, thinking and simply looking. And, after having reached this point, what I believe at this moment is:

Time and change are indistinguishable. Inseparable rather. They are identical twins. I might reach to even say they are conjoined twins. Or, two deeply harmonized lovers, maybe. Whatever the correct analogy may be, either way, two separate phenomena, however entangled with each other and dependent upon one another for survival, for harmony and for continuance. They move together, running along the trail of eternity. Running isn’t right. Dancing I believe is. Running implies their movement to always proceed linearly. This has been disproven, both in time and in change. Both are plastic. Malleable to the forces, emotions if you will, of life. Running doesn’t explain this properly. Dancing does. Twirling, spinning, stomping, jumping, leaping, pacing, strutting, waltzing, stepping, toeing, etc. Their coexistence is a dance, a dance however which wouldn’t exist without their conjoining. Without time, change impedes. Without change, there is no marker for time. Time is tracked, noted and observed by the changing of things. Change is seen only in the passage of time. Given their conjoined coexistence, they are subjected to the same laws of nature, most notably our ability as a species to attend to the world around us, to provide attention to the workings of a mechanism. The soul of the universe (time, unknown, infinity, space, understanding, etc.) is in constant flux, infinitesimal change, and so to its body (matter, nature, inanimate objects, living creatures, us).

How can we experience this awareness?

The more attention we pay to the moment by moment account of our lives, the more detail our brain notices, and the slower time seems to pass.

So by relation,

The more attention we pay to the moment to moment changing of things, the more detail our brain notices, and the greater our understanding of change becomes.

Change, as it is, not what we believe or wish it to be.


…So hard to move on when you’re down in a hole,

Where there’s so little a chance to experience soul.”

— George Harrison, The Light That Has Lighted The World


I’ll probably revisit and revise this piece again someday. But for now, this will do.

For Those Along and to Be

“This too shall pass.”

At the onset of any new change, the moment you realize that of which is upon you, far before your understanding of its presence begins to even attempt, before you allow yourself to succumb to the brutality of what is to come… pause for a second, and remind yourself of the saying above, recite it even, over and over again, and then again:

“This too shall pass.”

It hasn’t started yet, the changes to come truly unknown, the challenges, the good, the bad, the new to come and those of old to fade away. You don’t really know what’s ahead, so don’t fool yourself, but remain hopeful, because faith in this hope is enough, even of the slightest degree, no matter how hard or how impossible this seems. No matter how heavy or how dark either. Everything in this world passes on. The good, the bad, the new, the old, and us; you and I and everyone else.

But, stop, and remind yourself of this statement, this truth rather: “This too shall pass.”

Then step forward, into the abyss of uncertainty, no matter the length of your first stride, because failure to do so, inaction upon this demand, halts the process of nature, not that of the whole, but of your own nature’s sustain within the grander. You can’t simply exist. Either way, action or inaction, you are subjected to stressors of this life. Both can be powerful, however. Action or inaction. That’s for us to decide.

“This too shall pass”, yes, but not without your involvement.

I have found this to be a very helpful belief to mediate upon and to act along with, though it has not always come easy for me; for many of us the same, I’m willing.

Many times in my life I have not believed this, sometimes desperately believed against it even, definitively convinced myself that my current lot, my current experience, was to remain, and I myself, weakened by circumstance, stuck within the amber of this pathetically defeated existence.

I was wrong. Many times I still am wrong. It was me all long.

No matter the magnitude of the alarming change brought upon us, it is hard to stop, hard to slow down, to think nonetheless upon anything. But we must, if we want to move forward with any sense of self, any belief in progressing past this, any faith in survival beyond this.

To believe against this, though easy and justified the same, I understand, truly I do, however, is corruption of the mind, a corruption we have choice over. Believe this, put your faith into it…

“Because the corruption of the mind is much more a plague than any such contaminating change in the surrounding air we breath. The latter infects animate creatures in their animate nature; the former infects human beings in their humanity.” — Marcus Aurelius

I have been there, we all have been there, and we all have choice to whether we remain there, stuck at the beginning. I was there not too long ago, during a very difficult time in my life, thrown into a change I wanted nothing to do with, no want or deserve even I thought to be apart of, but that is not how it works; life happens. Many times I still find myself revisiting this moment in my life, others before it the same, others past this, those will come. Again, life happens.

Circumstance provided me with this new context, but it was up to me, and with choice in moving forward the same, whether or not to believe in its eventual passing and to move on along with it anyway. For a long time though, I was unable to act upon either, I told myself. And I believed this, so I didn’t.

During this time however, thrilled at the opportunity to attend the book launch of one of my favorite authors new works, Tim Ferriss’ release of ‘The Tools of Titans’, a perspective was carefully shared by Tim in response to a confidently convinced onlookers questioning from the audience. Though I do not recall exactly the individuals question, I do however strongly remember it having to deal with the nature of being stuck and debilitated by circumstance, by fate. And with proper time taken to consider the question asked and the response to come, Tim shared the following:

“For anyone who thinks they are disadvantaged, set back, unprivileged, or so on, it will always become a self-inflicted prophecy. We all have demons.”

Simply put, powerful and true, and relevant to any situation, no matter your contemplate, especially when faced with the inevitable changes of life. We all face them, no matter their degree, no matter their magnitude, we all feel them.

With understanding, and sometimes without, many times these changes are not what we bargained for, not what we prayed towards, and in no shape or form what we believe we deserve. This change upon you is simply what is. It is fact, it is occurring, and it is your life. What benefit is found in plea for an alternative? It is your life, and your life is now, and this now includes all this, so accept it’s presence and proceed.

That is something we sometimes forget in these moments of uncertainty, but, it is something of deep importance of which we must understand; that this is your life. Accept it, accept the changes of now and of to come, for they are apart of the context of your life, and your acceptance and understanding of them is crucial towards your overcoming them, and your key to releasing your chained and bound attachment to that which at once wasn’t and at another won’t be again.

This isn’t made up. In fact, it is excruciatingly real, and it is upon you. But, always remember, like everything else in nature, “This too shall pass.”

This change, like every other act of transition seen and unseen in nature, is short lived, relativity of course apart of the equation. This short life can last a lifetime though if we allow it.

With this, however, understand though that your feelings towards this moment are justified; they too are real and should not be shamed nor made to feel inadequate, your being and your life the same. I believe this to be important to acknowledge; vital even. We are worthy of our struggles, and we are righteous in our enduring them and in our sustained attempts to overcome them. But, in accordance, the change upon you deserves the same, for it too is real, the demands of its asking and the acknowledgment and acceptance of its purpose.

You are prepared for this, mind and body alike, you are built for this.

Think of the changes you have already faced, the many challenges life has presented you, the stressors you have already adapted to… and here you are, and here you remain, intact and built mightier to move forward, to confront again yet another change, though you may not believe this, though you many not yet feel this… again, here you are.

Powerful. Hopeful. Prepared. Adapted.

If examples are needed for your belief towards this truth, look at nature:

The day succumbs to night, but returns to reveal the beauty of another day, no matter the life of the one before it.

The storm drains itself of rain to allow the sun, and brings with it life, no matter the ferociousness of the storm passed.

The dead of winter succumbs to the coming of spring, allowing it its place, its life, winter however leaving all stronger for having endured its subtle asking to rest, no matter seasons length, its cast, nor its unpredictability. No matter either the time passed before this new strength is realized.

You are no different to this, and neither is this change upon you, this stress. It is here now, but it will not remain. Of nature, nothing can, nothing will, and nothing has.

Will change repeat? Yes. But you will be ready. Innately you already are. Again, you are prepared for this, mind and body alike, you are built for this.

And in this short lived state, all this moment is asking of you, all this moment suggests of your being, is to allow fully your innate ability of meeting the requirements of this situation its role, to live accordingly with the nature presented, and to have faith in your eventual adaptation to such.

Remember, believe wholeheartedly, and turn to nature if for needed reference, of the body and of the universe; “This too shall pass.”

To Each Their Own

I’m tired. However, and I realize this, I’m tired of all of which I know to be of my control, of my choice.

I’m tired of the comparison. Of comparing myself with others; their wants, their needs, their dreams and pursuits, their current lot and the futures they speak of, and so on. It’s not me, not at all, but its easy to. It’s also easy not to, if of course I choose against it. Similarities, they can exist, but the same? No, not at all. Remember, to each their own.

I’m tired of the doubt. Of doubting myself, my worth, my place, my acts, my thoughts. It’s old, it’s tiresome, it’s cruel, self imposed I know, but cruel the same. It’s not me, its my choice and I can stop this at any moment. To allow it to remain, to persist, how much of a fool can you be? Stop your pity, instead choose to try, choose to do, and then you will know. Remember, to each their own.

I’m tired of the confusion. Of confusing myself, of being confused by others, or rather, allowing myself to be confused by the pair; the words they say, the actions they take, and the same of mine; my words, my actions. Choose, choose now, then choose again, not to be confused and you won’t be. Confusion from curiosity, let it live, that’s fun, but confusion from your own allowance of both the internal and the ex-, let it pass you by — give it no mind. Remember, to each their own.

I’m tired of the hatred. Of the kind from others, but even more so of the self-loathing of my own partake. Do you enjoy the act of self-defeat? Of self-betrayal? The tearing down of your own being? Or the destruction of your own peace? No. Than enough, no more. Allow these thoughts to again pass you by, for they carry with them no real anchor, only the hope that you may offer harbor for their taking. Don’t. And of others hatred directed your way? Also, don’t the same. Choose, then choose again. Remember, to each their own.

Okay, enough of this. Who cares if I’m tired of anything, anyways? Typically not many, sometimes not a one. Maybe I’d be better off by simply not caring myself, not of just anything, but of what I perceive to be worth the time.  Again, not that of just anything, but of things of this nature; harmful. Let it go, move on, simply stop. It can be that easy. It is that easy, if you want it to be. If you choose it to be. Maybe easy isn’t the word. But, if not easy, able; always able. Let it be difficult if you must, “If it’s endurable, then endure it”; accept its confront, but remember, you’re able; always able.

Choose not to be compared — and you won’t feel compared. Don’t feel compared — and you haven’t been…

Choose not to be doubted — and you won’t feel doubted. Don’t feel doubted — and you haven’t been…

Choose not to be confused — and you won’t feel confused. Don’t feel confused — and you haven’t been…

Choose not to be hated — and you won’t feel hated. Don’t feel hated — and you haven’t been…

“Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been.” – Marcus Aurelius

But I do — than you will. And if I don’t? — than you won’t. Choice always remains. You’re able; always able.

And in closing, all I want to do in this life, and I assume for many the same, is love. Love what I do, love who I am with, love where I am, and love where I am going — than you will — if you choose to. And this choice? Remember, to each their own.

Remember, you must die.

Death; oh, how it has flooded my mind lately. More appropriately, the thought alone has consumed my attention, stood defiantly in place against my hesitant rebuttal, and toiled with my attempted understanding of its ominous position. However, with this, and with recent encounter of its inevitability and its swiftness, death’s ever lingering presence has also brought about a sense of compartmentalization, towards how I divide the allotment of my time, who I decide to allow my being, and what I deem as worthy within and of my life.

Death has a funny, and yet a not so comical way of bringing back to the moment reality. We all will die, yes, there is no changing this. Despite our various efforts towards a guaranteed life of longevity, no matter how cautious or how tame we live out our days, they are numbered, and they remain, with unyielding persistence, in tally; destination and departure unknown. With this… memento mori.

Derived from Latin origin, memento mori, when translated to our modern form of the English language, reminds us bluntly, ‘Remember you must die’. In reference to the piece pictured above, from a perspective more poetically crafted, ‘Vanité’, master pieced by 17th Century French painter Philippe de Champaigne, displays through detailed expression the thin line of existence in which we abide. The tulip (life), the skull (death), and the hourglass (time); life, our current experience, remaining in constant shadow of death, which we may encounter at any moment. The only guarantee between the triad conveyed at median; death.

There is no guarantee of a life, even less, if possible, no assurance of time. We aren’t promised a single breath, no law of nature ensuring us an abundance, or even a presence, of either element. So why are we so wasteful of it? Why do we engage with such petty occurrences and tasks? Why do we allow our lives to be consumed with such oblivion, with negligence towards its fragility? There remains a thin line between our existence and our demise, yet, we act as if the former is forever. Again… memento mori.

As mentioned, I recently encountered death, not my life, but a loved one, and as I write this, with mind lost in consumption of its very nature, I find it, with slight grief, irresponsible and selfish of myself to only be aware of it now, in light only because of our latest confront. A loved one, so dear and close to my heart, to my being, to my life, almost taken away, by a true evil of this world, one which affects us all, directly and indirectly; addiction. Stolen it felt, robbed, if even only for a moment, with monstrous lack of care or of concern for all involved, for death does not carry with it a sense of compassion or refrain, only a duty, a duty to take, always too soon it feels, for death doesn’t, it only does.

How arrogant it feels though, how wrong and self-loathed it seems to allow the tribulation of another the right to provide you with any sense of pain, or for that matter, of thanks; he experienced this inevitably, you merely observed, for now. You have no mind even to what it truly entails, to what he truly experienced. Is there pain? Perhaps a release? How intense the struggle? Do we succumb with ease? Or, maybe, just nothing.

Enough, these thoughts, they’re needed, these feelings too, and it’s okay, life tends to provide the test first and the lesson later, death staying true to this form. Meditate on this however, understand what this is, this feeling, this experience, this will happen again, to you even, to another so dear, sooner or later, but no matter, for it will happen again, no matter.

But oh how it hurts when you are so near it, how odd and unsure the moment it provides, how abrupt it impedes everything, stops us on our path and challenges us to accept, for with death there is no other way, no alternative route, so accept. Death ceases life, but life itself does not cease, and that is the hardest truth to accept. Beyond you is more, beyond our loved ones, beyond this moment, the same, but no matter, nor you or I will be a part of that, we are only a part of this, right now, so the future, no matter, only now.

So than, what to take from this? Death is always there, here rather, around you and I, always, right now. You are already dead, your life already destined to end, finale inscripted, you just don’t know it yet, you don’t truly know it, and by the time you’re allowed to, you’re gone, too late.

So than, what to take from this? Live, live now, before it is too late, do not fear death, rather accept it, embrace its forthcoming with repose, for… ”nobody dies before his time comes, so I am calm. I know I am going to die, I just don’t know when.”

Thankfully, with deep gratefulness of fate and of circumstance, he is still here with us, still able to converse, still given time to express ideas and to share perspectives, to create and to learn, still capable of life and of love and of all that comes with it. We all are, remember this, you the same if you are reading this now.

However, this experience, as gratuitous its perceived purpose at the time, excavated from within me, from depths of inactive essence, from thoughts of idle action, an awakening and a forging of a practice, one towards understanding and of gratuity, towards acceptance and of regard, for this life, for death to come, and for the sustain of this moment… “thankful, for it is not ours to own, only to borrow. Death will come, know this, use this.”

You may be sitting there, reading this, believing it to be a rather pessimistic piece, but I would argue against this innate impulse of thought. Allow this idea, or truth rather, to bring about a vigor for this life, for this moment. Again we all will die, yes, but now, right now, truly be grateful to be alive, I beg you.

Wherever you are, right now, reading this, look up from your screen, now around you, and find the beauty of this moment, better yet, bring beauty to this moment. Take a deep breath, come back to your being, feel the world and its nature around you, understand the best you can with acquiescence the common fate of us all, and be grateful and amazed to be a part of it. You will die, yes, no matter, but for now you must live.

From this moment on, in our constant face with death, to reference the always pertinent Stoic philosophy, to quote Marcus Aurelius, “…think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breatheto thinkto enjoy,to love.”

And with this, memento mori.

Aristotle’s ‘Nicomachean Ethics’

How did you come across the book?

It was a book that has been on my list because I’m really interested in Stoic Philosophy; I really like reading Plato and Aristotle and all that… and so I hadn’t read this one… and so I put it on the list!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Oh… that’s a tough one! A lot of… you know… practical ideas about the human condition are spoken about in this book and it’s really… well, one of the interesting perspectives is how universal it is, after thousands and thousands of years! You can pick up this book and realize, [bctt tweet=”Wow! Things haven’t really changed in the human psyche all that much! ” username=”cityreadsnyc”]So, that’s been my main take away and kind of using some of these lessons and concepts to inform my own life.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Oh… that’s a tough question… another one! These are good! Umm… I would recommend it if you’re looking into thinking deep and thinking about society… thinking about people… thinking about yourself… and examining it in a different lens, and kind of questioning the world around you. So, that’s who’d I recommend it to… anyone who’s looking for answers… or looking to ask more questions!