Shine: Today and Always – with The Emperor of Rome


Waking up:

Getting up in the morning isn’t the most pleasant of things, especially when the previous day has been long…, either from hard work or from indulgence in eating, drinking and socializing. This privilege of waking up daily which we so often take for granted, is one of those acts of nature that equalizes us. Big or small, high or lowly in the society, waking up is not usually by choice, we use different strategies including repeated alerts and personal assistants to ensure we wake up and meet up with appointments. For the wealthy business tycoon, or the president of a nation to remain on top their game, wake up they must, at times that are not necessarily convenient, and same it is for the poor and humble. When next you are wondering at the vanity of routineness of life while waking up in the morning, remember these words of Marcus Aurelius:

In the morning when thou risest unwillingly, let this thought be present,—I am rising to the work of a human being. Why then am I dissatisfied if I am going to do the things for which I exist and for which I was brought into the world? Or have I been made for this, to lie in the bed-clothes and keep myself warm?—But this is more pleasant.— Dost thou exist then to take thy pleasure, and not at all for action or exertion? Dost thou not see the little plants, the little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees working together to put in order their several parts of the universe? And art thou unwilling to do the work of a human being, and dost thou not make haste to do that which is according to thy nature?—But it is necessary to take rest also.—It is necessary. However, Nature has fixed bounds to this too: she has fixed bounds to eating and drinking, and yet thou goest beyond these bounds, beyond what is sufficient; yet in thy acts it is not so, but thou stoppest short of what thou canst do.

Excerpt From: Emperor of Rome Marcus Aurelius. “Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius.” iBooks.

Setting out:

So you are finally up and ready to set out, then you remember all those things that make you wish you didn’t have to leave your comfort zone, or better still that you were on vacation on some island: the crazy drivers in traffic, poor working conditions, the difficult bosses, incompetent officials, dubious people and a host of others. The terrain, you have assessed to be difficult generally. When all these thoughts hit you, do not despair, just remember that a wise man once said that stars can only shine in the darkness. Tell yourself that all the difficulties along your path are opportunities for you to shine.

Remember also these words:

Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busybody, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil. But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful, and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not [only] of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in [the same] intelligence and [the same] portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him. For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another, then, is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away.

Excerpt From: Emperor of Rome Marcus Aurelius. “Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius.” iBooks.

Conducting your business:

There was in him nothing harsh, nor implacable, nor violent, nor, as one may say, anything carried to the sweating point; but he examined all things severally, as if he had abundance of time, and without confusion, in an orderly way, vigorously and consistently. And that might be applied to him which is recorded of Socrates, that he was able both to abstain from, and to enjoy, those things which many are too weak to abstain from, and cannot enjoy without excess. But to be strong enough both to bear the one and to be sober in the other is the mark of a man who has a perfect and invincible soul, such as he showed in the illness of Maximus.

Excerpt From: Emperor of Rome Marcus Aurelius. “Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius.” iBooks.

After waking up, setting out and finally settling to the business of the day, we should realize the potential to change the world by our actions. We must pay attention to detail while doing our work whatever it may be, never focusing on the obstacles for they would always be there, but always keeping in mind that the darker the night the brighter the stars shine. Mother Teresa is known today, not because she occupied some high office, but because she decided to make an impact in her little corner – the thoughts of comfort and fame far from her mind I am almost certain. In her words, she chose to dedicate her life to:

the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the cripples, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to society and are shunned by everyone” Mother Teresa (Wikipedia).

The ability to work with care and dedication and move things forward in a difficult terrain is what changes societies. While many think only of acquiring power and positions of authority, we must remember that if each of us can think right, act well and move things forward no matter the challenges, the world would be a better place. Our societies are the way they are because there is too much routine and inertia – we have to learn to move things forward for the better. It is not enough to register our presence at work and collect our paychecks or whatever rewards just as a matter of routine, we must ask ourselves what next we can do to make whatever it is we do better. Where ever we are, no matter what we do, it counts.

Mother Teresa

Dr Ande Elisha

The Amateur Philosopher