In action be neither grudging, nor selfish, nor ill-advised, nor constrained. Do not let your thought be adorned with overwrought nicety. Don’t be a babbler or a busybody. Let the God within direct you as a manly being, as an elder, a statesman, a Roman, and a ruler, standing prepared like one who awaits the recall from life, in marching order; requiring neither an oath nor the testimony of any man. And with everything, be cheerful, and independent of the assistance and the peace that comes from others; for, it is a man’s duty to stand upright, self-supporting, not supported.
One of the classic knocks on stoicism is that it is cold, detached, unemotional. The first part of this meditation seems to reinforce that – don’t be a busy body, act like a statesman. But let’s not forget the second part – with everything be cheerful. To take duty and life seriously does not mean one has to be some Cato like grump. Live this life with intention and purpose, but also with joy. As always with Marcus, an easy thing to write, a hard thing to live.
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