Your Occasional Stoic — The Duration of Man’s Life Is But An Instant

The duration of man’s life is but an instant; his substance is fleeting, his senses dull; the structure of his body corruptible; the soul but a vortex. We cannot reckon with fortune, or lay our account with fame. To put is shortly, the life of the body is but a river, and the life of the soul a misty dream. Existence is a warfare, and a journey in a strange land; and the end of fame is to be forgotten.

What then avails to guide us? One thing, and one alone—Philosophy.

And this consists in keeping the divinity within inviolate and intact; victorious over pain and pleasure; free from falsehood, free from hypocrisy; independent of what others do or fail to do; Accepting of all that happens to it, which comes from the same source as we; and, above all, with equanimity awaiting death, as nothing else than a resolution of the elements of which every being compounded. And, if in their successive interchanges no harm befall the elements, why should one suspect any in the change and dissolution of the whole?

It is natural, and nothing natural can be evil.

Meditations 2:17


This is the last meditation in book 2, and among the best, clearest articulations of Marcus’s thinking. We’re seen as we progressed that early on Marcus was laying the ground work, thanking his mentors, etc. Now he’s into the meat  of it. Yes, its repetitive, but remember, these were Marcus’s personal notebooks. He was coaching himself to life a better life, and we all know practice makes perfect.

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