The Daily Stoic for February 25th. “The smoke and dust of myth”.
“Keep a list before your mind of those who burned with anger and resentment about something, of even the most renowned for success, misfortune, evil deeds, or any special distinction. Then ask yourself, how did that work out? Smoke and dust, the stuff of simple myth trying to be legend . . .”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 12.27
Today’s stoic is actually a reflection on time. In this passage, Marcus Aurelius reminds us that it doesn’t matter how powerful all the emperors who preceded him were. They are all buried and forgotten now.
On The Nature Of Time
While this might seem depressing at first, its meaning is twofold. In his famous song, “All things must pass”, George Harrison wrote:
Sunrise doesn’t last all morning
A cloudburst doesn’t last all day
Of course, this is heavily influenced by Buddhism. All things, good or bad, eventually go away.
And that’s ok.
It serves as a perfect reminder for us to enjoy life. We cannot live every day as if it was the last one, but we need to seek our happiness, avoid wasting our lives in things we hate, and have a positive attitude towards life.
The Smoke And Dust Of Myth
We all look to transcend. Even if we are not aware of it. It’s in our genes, and it’s a survival mechanism of mother nature. We can look for it through our children, through our work, or through or creations -music, companies, words…- or acts.
That’s ultimately the strongest creative force I know.
As an example, I don’t know if people will listen to my music one hundred years from now. I seriously doubt it. However, sometimes you receive emails like this one…
“Dear “Bosque de mi mente”, first of all I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your deep, soulful and honest music. […] It helped me through hard times and was a constant companion through my life! I love you music and I am very thankful it is (and will be) part of my life!”
… and realize that everything’s connected. What really matters is that something good you do today will propagate and merge with hundreds of thousands of other acts and eventually influence the future of many people.
I like to think of it as adding your own “drop” of goodness into an ocean of human actions and consequences.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “The smoke and dust of myth”, serves as a reminder that all things are not meant to last forever. Like George Harrison’s song reminds us, both good and bad things eventually pass.
I don’t see this as a depressing fact, but as a call to action to live and enjoy the present. Our small good deeds, when we are nice, help or inspire others, propagate and will eventually transcend us.