A Meditation on Meditations


By Troy Headrick of Thinker Boy:  Blog & Art

Toward the end of 2018, I started developing some bad habits.  For example, I got sucked into spending too much time sitting in front of my TV.  Having said that, I mostly watched stuff on the political debacle happening in the United States and elsewhere.  I’m talking about the rise of what I think of as neo-fascist political culture and parties.  In America, we have Trump as the personification of these ugly developments, but unfortunately, Europe is starting to see the rise of Trump lookalikes.  Of course, all this is terribly worrying.  But I digress.

So I decided—as many people do when they make resolutions for the new year—that I would watch less and read more.  I figured this wouldn’t be onerous since there was a period in my life—not so long ago now—when I didn’t even own a “boob tube.”  (It is certainly apropos that many in America refer to televisions in this slangy way.)  But, again, I digress.

By the way, in some instances, the best way to get to the point is by following a roundabout route.

So, given my new resolution, I picked up, a couple of days or so ago, out of my own personal library, a book I’d already read a time or two but one that had had a profound effect on me in the past.  I’d long felt the desire to reread it.  This suddenly seemed like the perfect time to do so.  The book I’m referring to is Meditations, the seminal work by Marcus Aurelius.

By the way, Marcus Aurelius is considered a stoic.  I highly recommend that everyone learn more about the tenets of stoicism.  I would also like to say, before I get much further, that Meditations is so full of wisdom, about life and how it should be lived, that I consider it a must-read, one of those books that will change your life and outlook (on many things).

One of the big themes of Meditations is mortality and how we all must come to terms with the fact that we’re not going to live forever.  Moreover, as we move inexorably toward death and dissolution, we have to learn to become comfortable with watching ourselves age and decay.  I know this sounds morbid, but think about it.  Aging is something none of us can stop.  We can take care of ourselves by exercising and eating well and meditating, but all of us will get older and disappear.  I see this as the biggest psychic challenge human beings face—the challenge of aging and learning how to accept it.  I say this because I have noted that some people age extremely well and others age very badly.

Today, in this blog, I simply want to introduce the topics of stoicism and aging.  In my next, I would like to look at some case studies of those who are in the process of getting older.  (These include people I actually know and have observed.)  Of the people I’d like to write about, some are aging artfully and others, not so much.

So, until my next blog, I’d like you to think about aging and death.  I’d like to request that you ponder the following questions:  What does it mean to age well?  And how is it that some people move through the various stages of life while remaining happy and relatively healthy while others become depressed, frustrated, and angry?

25 thoughts on “A Meditation on Meditations

  1. First, I related to watching too much politics on television. If you care, and so many of us do, U.S. politics is a difficult thing to experience these days. I believe we watch in hopes that they’ll be an interruption of programmed television, with a “special report” that announces the entire current administration is resigning.

    I have two thoughts on aging:
    1) I honestly believe that some people are genetically built to be more positive.
    2) The hardest work we can do is acceptance: to just accept who you are; age, body type, and the way you age.

    Meditation is a great way to turn it off so that you can calmly enjoy the moments that count. The idiot in the White House doesn’t matter.

    Thank you for providing provocative questions we need to ponder.

    1. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

      My dream “Special Report” is that there has been a mass incarceration.

      I see that you currently live in Portugal. Lisbon is certainly one of my favorite European cities. I visited the place a number of years ago. Like you, I used my skills as a educator to find work abroad. I eventually ended up living in Poland, the UAE, Turkey, and Egypt. The education I received as a traveler rivaled anything I got in grad school.

      Yes, there is probably a “happiness while ageing” gene. But it’s probably more complex than that. I’ll do a bit of theorizing in the next blog I write for PO on this subject.

      Aurelius writes some incredible stuff on the importance of accepting the inevitable. I truly encourage you to read his Meditations.

      I was super nice hearing from you. Do you blog as well?

    1. You are certainly welcome for the recommendation. By the way, if you look at must-read lists on the internet, you’ll find that Meditations often appears on them.

    1. No, I haven’t but I’ll certainly check it out. I’m quite intrigued with Stoicism. I find lots of similarities between the Stoics and the Buddhists. That might be why if find the former so appealing and insightful. I’ve read some of the great Stoic texts and am looking forward to reading and studying more in the coming months.

      1. I think The Obstacle is the Way is a really good compilation! Then you can use each chapter to decide “oh this will be my next book” then. I also really love the Stoics and their writings have helped me more than most things

    1. Thank you for your insightful comment. I once read somewhere that certain Buddhist sects like to spend a bit of time each day thinking about death and their own demise. It may sound weird, but I think that is wise and I practice it myself. That way, I am slowly becoming familiar and comfortable with the idea of my own demise. Facing things is certainly healthier than being in denial.

  2. A great post – I am going to order the book now. I have terrible trouble meditating and fear death…It seems that one way to age gracefully is to see death as spirit moving on. I hope to achieve that someday.

    1. Sorry for the late reply to your comment. Yes, this is the secret. We see death as something that’s separate from life. We need to see it a par of life instead. I think you will find Meditations oddly comforting…

  3. Great post! These questions are really an eye-opener. I have personally seen people who smile and go ahead with difficult situations, without any grief. I believe they have acquired this by following rituals to evolve in their thought processing.

    1. Yes. We learn to cling to life and we can learn to gracefully age and let it go as well. Thanks for the response and I’m sorry to be responding so late.

  4. For me, ageing well is having confidence in yourself and what you bring to the world at each stage of life, understanding that you will never stop changing, learning and developing.
    Also-as we grow older and pass on knowledge, happiness, love etc this continues our involvement in the cycle of life even beyond our own.
    Thanks for making me think!

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