Practical Stoicism
Practical Stoicism

Episode 31 · 2 months ago

The Task At Hand


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In this week's episode we'll be reading and going over the twelfth meditation from Book Three of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.


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Welcome back to practical stoicism. I'm glad you're here and I'd like to take a few minutes to thank the incredible number of, I guess, at my age, I can say young people who are listening. Your emails are incredibly inspiring to me, very motivating. As well. As someone who isn't so old he forgets what it's like to be sixteen or seventeen years old, struggling to feel whether or not there's a point to life, for a purpose we can create for ourselves. It makes me feel incredibly useful that you're reaching out to me for guidance or help with specific struggles. I want to be clear in saying that I can't give you the right answer, or maybe any answer, but I can give you my opinion and the best advice I can muster, and I would encourage you to continue to write in when you feel like doing so. I'd also like to remind everyone that the premium version of this podcast not only skips the ads and the preamble, but also gives you direct...

...access to me via an a m a feature that's asked me anything, and when you ask these questions through supercast, they're anonymized. And other people can see the questions but not who's asked them, so your questions can actually help others who may be going through similar situations. If you'd like to subscribe to the premium feed, which, of course, supports everything I'm doing here and allows me to do more, you can check for a link to do so in the show notes of this episode, or you can just go to stoicism dot supercast dot com. Also, I have two very big pieces of news, one of which I am going to share now and the other you'll likely need to wait for a week or two for me to be able to share. The piece of news I can share is that I'm going to start a Wednesday version of this podcast starting in October. These episodes will feature conversations with other people in the philosophy space and general stoicism space, authors, other creators, professors and even some other people you might know. runtime for these new...

...episodes will be around forty five minutes. So for all of you who have been lighting up my inbox with messages like I've already binged everything. We need more episodes. Hopefully this will be a nice addition to your weekly listening routine and not to harp on this, but I would like to point out that one of the reasons I can now do this is that more and more of you are signing up for the premium version of this podcast. I realized that six dollars a month might seem inconsequential to some of you, but those six dollar increments add up, and the more they add up, the more time I can steal away from my day job as a media consultant. And in case you're wondering, no, this new episode will not be paywalled. It will be available for free, with ads of course, to everyone. And I am also flirting with the idea of a stoicism thought of the day sort of offering for premium subscribers, but I haven't yet decided if I've got the time to commit to it. But soon I'm sure that's going to be a thing as well. Anyway, a little news, a thing. You are...

...two and teases about the future. And finally, here we are, ready to talk about this week's meditation, which is the twelve of book three and which reads as follows. If you do the job in a principled way, with diligence, energy and patience, if you keep yourself free of distractions and keep the spirit inside of you undamaged, as if you might have to give it back at any moment. If you can embrace this without fear or expectations, can find fulfillment in what you're doing now, as nature intended, and in your superhuman truthfulness, every word, every utterance, then your life will be happy and no one can prevent that. Just before diving and I want to point out something that may or may not have made you cringe here. I really didn't like the word, but the words superhuman. I don't much prefer that translation of this particular meditation. So, as I did last week or the week before, I'm going to share an alternate version of this translation,... least of that line, and that reads as if Thou holdest to this expecting nothing, fearing nothing, but being satisfied with THY present activity according to nature and with heroic truth in every word and sound, which Thou utterest, Thou wilt live happy. I like the word heroic better, because it is a heroic effort to speak the truth in every word and sound you choose to utter. A few of US can master that. Everyone lies a little, sometimes to protect another's feelings. Sometimes to make someone feel good about themselves. I'm guilty of it on occasion, and I'm sure you are as well. The word superhuman just feels a little too modern, even for me, for a topic so serious. All I can think of when I hear that word is that seen in deadpool. I don't know if you've seen it, but it's when he makes fun of the Superhero landing thing. That's what I think of when I hear superhuman. Anyway, just before starting this episode, I had a look at what remained of the meditations, and there are many meditations. Laugh in the meditations and I thought, as I realized how much...

...longer we'd be reading from Marcus, what if everyone gets tired of Marcus and wants to move on? What if they're bored of hearing what Marcus has to say? Then I read this meditation and well, let's go ahead and work through it and see if you can't guess how much this meditation helped me just minutes ago and how I hope it will help you in the future. When you're working, what are you sometimes doing? I know that when I'm working, especially when I'm busy and have other things to do, I am sometimes, if not constantly thinking about those other things I have to do, those other tasks, that other work I have to do. I'm always thinking if I can get through this task in x amount of minutes or hours, then I can get onto the next task and then the next one, and then I might get to dinner on time. Does this sound familiar at all? Is this you sometimes, maybe a lot of the times, hard to focus on the task at hand because there's so much more to do after you're done? And if it sound familiar, how do you imagine this sort of Focus,...

...absentee ism from the task at hand impact your ability to do the task at hand? Would you say a lot? And if you would, what do you imagine that might do to your character over time? Would it create a character that is unfocused, less effective, less trusted or relied upon? And if it would, what impact is that having, not just on you but on your community? How can you hope to be of utility to the community you live in, the Society of which you are a part, if you cannot pay attention, if you cannot perform tasks with diligence and care? And from where else is our happiness derived, if not from service, if not from knowing we have aligned ourselves with nature to become as all of nature is, a cooperating part of a functional whole. How can we be happy if we are not part of this, if we are instead disruptive to it?...

Marcus thinks we cannot, and I think the same. So, the next time you are doing anything like I am scripting a podcast episode to share with all of you, don't ask yourselves, as I did, what if this gets boring or, as we all May, what is next on my to do list. Instead, commit to the task so that you might do it well, so that those for whom you were doing it might be made better themselves, and so that you, in turn, will feel happy and proud of what part you played in the functioning of nature while performing that task. Thank you for listening to this week's episode of practical stoicism. I appreciate it as always, and hope we'll see each other again next week. Again, if you'd like to subscribe to the premium feed, you can go to stoicism dot supercast dot com or check the show notes for a link and, if you haven't yet, consider leaving this podcast a five star review on Apple Podcast, spotify podcast or pod chase er come. Thank you again for being... and for listening, and until next time, take care,.

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