Friday, July 26, 2013

Great Quotes - Marcus Aurelius

Not to belabor the idea that Marcus Aurelius gave great quotes, but I've run across another good example.  The article is about an author named Jessica Francis Kane, who clipped an inspirational quote back when, and it's helped her writing.  The quote:
Do not disturb yourself by picturing your life as a whole; do not assemble in your mind the many and varied troubles which have come to you in the past and will come again in the future, but ask yourself with regard to every present difficulty: 'What is there in this that is unbearable and beyond endurance?' You would be ashamed to confess it! And then remind yourself that it is not the future or what has passed that afflicts you, but always the present, and the power of this is much diminished if you take it in isolation and call your mind to task if it thinks that it cannot stand up to it when taken on its own.
 She focuses hard on the question in the middle: 'What is there in this that is unbearable and beyond endurance?'.  There are very few activities in life that really fit that category, especially in writing.  More often, we get pulled from a task because our mind wanders or because something else simply seems more appealing.  Here is what she says:
Sometimes I thought surviving on peanut butter and ramen noodles might be it. Other times I thought about how Marcus Aurelius's concerns and mine differed, but I was inspired by the idea that the spirit of them, separated by so many centuries, was similar. His words helped me get to the desk, and stay there, during all the years it took me to write my first good story. Writing is hard, but is it unbearable? Who would say that it is? Even asking the question, I'm reminded of the one exclamation in the passage: "You would be ashamed to confess it!" His words helped me navigate rejection, which is certainly no fun, but if you ask yourself if it's unbearable, you find yourself preparing the next self-addressed stamped envelope pretty quickly. 
 Yet another lesson I want to somehow give to my children.  And it wouldn't hurt if I fully learned it myself...

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