Can You Just Spell Your Name? Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

 

 

 

If any man should ask you how the name Antoninus is written, would you, with a straining of voice, utter each letter? What if the questioner grew angry, would you be angry, too? Would you not go on with composure and spell out every letter? Just so then in this life also remember that every duty is made up of certain parts. These it is your duty to observe and to go on your way and finish that which is set before you without being disturbed or showing anger toward those who are angry with you. (Marcus Aurelius Meditations, Book VI, 26)

 

I’ve had time to consider this  and reflect on a lifelong practice of emotional reaction, overreaction, frustration. Old habits die hard and family has a way to push all the old buttons. I find it hard at times to just spell the name as Aurelius mentions, one letter after the other, doing so without malice, or bitterness, or anger. It’s so easy to understand a thing conceptually and another to practice it.  Too often and for too long, my lesser self gets the better of me and I give in to emotions, saying something cynical or sarcastic, short or snide. I do this with family, especially my children.  And in doing so, what have I taught them?

Personal change requires awareness and a stoic control of emotions. I’m a better person if I get this right. Maybe humor and listening, empathy and a hug, doing whatever it is without strain or anger, but composed and simply as the task requires.

My children are teenagers on the brink of adulthood.  What better way to teach them, than to handle the emotions of others as well as our own, by containing them, finishing our work properly, doing so with kindness, and remaining unfettered in the effort?

More than grades, more than activities and all the distractions of modern life, children need to learn this lesson, they need to observe it, and practice it, and in doing so, become good people. But I must first strive to do so myself.

 

 

 

Feb 20, 2017

2 Comments

  1. Mark Langdon

    I read Marcus Aurelius “Meditations” years ago, during a typical time-of-struggle that a young person faces when they make their way in the world. Marcus Aurelius simply kept a bedside notebook, where he penned his thoughts. This effort is useful for anyone, as it forces clarity-of-thinking, and offers a useful ability to go back, and examine one’s own analysis on a topic. This simple effort can yield results. Just writing it down, forces organiztion, and organization and co-ordination and careful planning can make real success possible.

    Emperor Aurelius was the boss. He was the TOP boss, and great responsibility rested on his shoulders. Being able to read what he wrote to himself, as he campaigned – this is a very great gift to our Western culture. His Stoic philosophy helped him live and work and do a difficult job, where his decisions would mean life or death.

    His book is not just for “Masters and Commanders”. We are all the Captains of our own lives. Each decision we make, matters a lot. Death comes too soon. Betrayal and ignorance and human greed are common problems we all have to face – and deal with somehow.

    Reading how Marcus Aurelius considered these problems and confronted them, is fascinating. There is no god-fraud in his writings. He did not believe in the nonsense and superstition of religion. He knew what religion was – a thing used by clever politicians to manipulate the human-children that populate the world, just as Rome herself did. (Rome allowed freedom-of-religion, so long as Roman Gods were not dishonoured. That was part of it’s political and military success.)

    His mediations are therefore even more valuable. They furnish the background thought-process, to a political model that allowed a diverse world to live together in peace. Everyone should read his “Meditations”. Just read his actual writing. (Don’t waste time reading about the book – just read the original book!) It is wonderful.

    Reply
    • mylinhshattan

      Read his actual writing, yes. Aurelius has a clarity of thought and self recognition that is timeless, and a beacon in doubtful times. I keep copies on the desk and in the car, at the ready, for rudderless moments. Thank you for taking the time to write and visiting the TreeHouseLetter.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

Stay Up to Date

Become a better reader and writer today and try the TreeHouseLetter for free. Always learning with a bit of fun.

Latest Posts

What Music Teaches Us About Writing

7 Min read The Music in Prose Creative Writing Forum, West Point Sentence rhythm, Beryl Markham and David Foster Wallace Writer's Toolbox, Improve writing immediately * I met with the Creative Writing Forum at West Point to discuss what music can teach us about...

The New Words Are In, Merriam-Webster Dictionary

2 Min read 13 New words Late to Coffee with a Baker's dozen * New words are in. And, 370 words have been added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary this September. You likely know many and below are some of my favorites. The editors break them down by category, but I...

Reading for Foodies

5 Min read 2 Book recs, memoir and craft Improve writing immediately AVAILABLE IN PODCAST Spotify iTunes * "Buy me five, ten, okay? That's 50, make it a 100," my mother says, leaving a Ben Franklin on the counter with two packs of TJ's peanut butter cups.* I order the...

Bringing Writers and Readers Together: Why I Write

2 Min read Short Take Creative process For writers and readers AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes * Maybe the better way to think of this letter is, why you read TreeHouseLetter. For me, it's about why I write. Which, are two sides of the same coin. I updated my site...

“Old Age is Not for the Young”*

6 Min read 2 Book recs, by elderly writers Serial comma 10,000-hour-rule Explicit language, 13 to 103 AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes * If you believe 10,000 hours of practice will help achieve mastery, say, on the violin or as a volleyball player, then the...

Books I Love

5 Min read 17 Books, 19.5 including mentions in footnotes Genres: Memoir, Essays, Fiction, Writing, Love, Poetry, War Toolbox, Texture in writing Contemporary and classic books from the top of my stacks, my more current reading. * The most common question I get is,...

What Book Would You Take to a Desert Island?

7 Min read 2 Book recs Film rec Article abstract, on Virtue and Vice* Toolbox, Improve writing, ages 9 to 99 AVAILABLE IN PODCAST Spotify iTunes * What book would you take to a desert island? I didn't know and hadn't given it much thought until Saturday when I told my...

Topics

Become a better reader and writer today and try the TreeHouseLetter for free. Always learning with a bit of fun.