A Reminder for Every Hustler and Schemer

In Book Four of his MeditationsMarcus Aurelius reminds himself to think about all the doctors who “died, after furrowing their brows over how many deathbeds, how many astrologers, after pompous forecasts about other’s ends.”

A few years ago, in my own copy, I made a notation. However absurd it might be to try to improve on the words of such a wise philosopher, in black pen—I added “or plotters, schemers and strategists, outsmarted, outmaneuvered and destroyed.” I suppose that was a dig at myself and other smart people. None of what we do lasts, no matter how clever or brilliant. It’s good to remember that.

The Stoics remind us that everyone is ultimately subject to the rhythm of events. That no one can opt out of the cycle of life and that the world has a way of humbling even the most successful and wise. Never lose sight of that–always keep it somewhere in the back of your mind. It will save you much trouble and much disappointment.