I find some of the thoughts in the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius quite profound. They make me reflect and think more deeply. Aurelius was a Stoic philosopher and an Emperor of Rome in the second century. Book 2 of his meditations was written around 170 AD on the Gran River, a tributary of the Danube, during a campaign against the Quadi, an invading Germanic tribe. In meditation 14, Aurelius reflects on the gift of the present moment, and I imagine him in his tent, weary and in his battle gear, thinking on the value of this fleeting life:
Even if you are going to live three thousand more years or ten times that, remember: you cannot lose another life than the one you are living now, or live another one than the one you are losing. The longest [life] amounts to the same as the shortest. The present is the same for everyone; its loss is the same for everyone, and it should be clear that a brief instant is all that is lost. For you cannot lose either the past or the future; how could you lose what you don’t have?
Now, eighteen centuries later, the present moment is still all we have to embrace or lose. We can plan for the future or think about the past, but we cannot “possess” it. So, embrace this present moment, this gift of time, be in it with God and live it with all your heart.
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