Stop guilting yourself

Below is a quote from Meditations written by Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor from 161 to 180 AD, followed by my interpretation and two cents on the matter.

The quote is a dialogue presumably between his higher and lower self, or perhaps a hypothetical pleasure-seeking muggle:

“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?’
-But it’s nicer here….
So you were born to feel ‘nice’? Instead of doing things and experience them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?
-But we have to sleep sometime….
Agreed. But nature has set a limit on that — as it did on eating and drinking. And you’re over the limit. You’ve had more than enough of that. But not of working. There you’re still below your quota.
You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you. People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it, they even forget to wash or eat. Do you have less respect for your own nature than the engraver does for engraving, the dancer for the dance, the miser for the money, or the social climber for status? When they’re really possessed by what they do, they’d rather stop eating and sleeping than give up practicing their arts.”
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

There is a mountain of wisdom in that quote that I can’t completely pick apart here, but the main point that I get from this and want to elaborate on is that working is something that is embedded in your nature as a human being, in the same way as sleeping, eating, drinking, and sexual desire.

Your nature will call you to do particular things and act in a particular way, and there is no use trying to resist it. If you don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning that’s because you are resisting your nature in some form or another.

The most likely reason for not wanting to get out of bed I think is because you hate your job, or how you spend your day to day. You need to force yourself to do it, and somebody needs to pay you, because otherwise you wouldn’t do it. It’s conflicting with your nature as a human being.

The idea in the quote above I think is that human nature is inherently good and right, and that you would do best to be true to it. You will be a naturally hard working, inspiring, productive, and creative human being if you just stopped telling yourself what you should and shouldn’t be doing.

Letting the chips fall like that and letting the ship steer itself I think will iron out every last one of your problems. The reason why is because you will begin to see the reasons for things in your own eyes, rather than just doing them because mummy or daddy or society has told you so.

You’ll want to work because it fills your life with meaning and purpose, rather than because you HAVE to work in order to make money and live. Likewise you will quickly learn not to overeat or oversleep, because those things, while tempting in the short term, bear consequences.

You become directly aware of what is and isn’t good for you in a very tangible way, and then all of a sudden you don’t need to guilt yourself about what you should or shouldn’t do. You just fucking do it, because it’s in your nature, and then you can finally enjoy your life that thing that all the new agers call the ‘present’ (they need to give better advice).

LifeJackson Nexhip