Sunday morning Stoic: Make your exit with grace

Meditations 12.36:

“You’ve lived as a citizen in a great city. Five years or a hundred—what’s the difference? The laws make no distinction.And to be sent away from it, not by a tyrant or a dishonest judge, but by Nature, who first invited you in—why is that so terrible?

Like the impresario ringing down the curtain on an actor:

“But I’ve only gotten through three acts …!”

Yes. This will be a drama in three acts, the length fixed by the power that directed your creation, and now directs your dissolution. Neither was yours to determine.

So make your exit with grace—the same grace shown to you.”

These are the last lines, appropriately, of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, his private journal that has become my most frequently read book.

It’s the book I give away most often now, too. When I give it away I wonder if others will find the delight in it that I do. It was written by a Roman emperor, of all people, and has no plot or narrative arc or even logical connections between paragraphs.

But I’ve received genuinely enthusiastic responses from some who seemed surprised to have been so taken with this ancient and slightly odd book of wisdom.

A young friend recently sent me a photo of her copy of Meditations on the beach with her and let me know she was on her third reading of it in just a couple of months.

Another friend sent me a thank you note that said reading it had been a source of encouragement during a challenging time in her life.

Your mileage may vary. There are portions that read like gibberish. But I regularly come across simply stated but profound insights that connect instantly and shine a light on reality and common sense in ways I’ve rarely seen.

I will continue, for now, to dip into it weekly and start back over at the beginning when I make it to that final line again.