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“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”Marcus Aurelius
To value the judgement of a person you despise and know to be faulty is idiotic. Cicero was correct: despicable people should not ever be held in high regard. Further, Livy says that ‘Nothing is less worth esteeming than the mind of the many.’ Many a time, we commit a great deal of energy to the undeserving and unbecoming – people who aren’t really worth our notice. And even knowing how little it’s worth, you decide to push aside that reality and disturb yourself with gratuitous pettiness. Trivialities are a futile means to unsettle yourself – and indeed, the mind of the many is reasonably distorted and fallacious.
By a little sense, you will discover the indifference of the collective psychology; its counterblast and antagonism should not be your concern. If you invest too much in the unworthy, you mislead yourself and misplace your precious time. It is useful to know who merits your time and who doesn’t; who will be constructive and who will be destructive. Often, it is tougher to form an accurate judgement yet unchallenging to form a mistaken one and straying away from effectiveness. Time and again, men are immoderately attentive to futile things that inhibit their own fruitfulness, unknowing of what is rewarding and gainful – if you don’t know what to dispose of and what to retain, you will naturally confound yourself. When you know something ought to be thrown away yet disdain doing so, you shall carry along its disagreeable reactions. On the other hand, when you know something is worth holding on to, you shall likewise carry along its agreeable benefits.
Accordingly, not all weights are worth carrying and not all pleasures worth savouring. The obstructive and wounding burdens inflame and multiply by time: these are the very misfortunes you had the liberty to stay away from yet ignorantly acceded to. Oddly, you tend to dismiss worthwhile burdens in pursuit of bearing the detrimental ones. Enriching duties are a threat to the weak and detrimental ones a temptation and a trap. The former owing to cowardice, the latter to wretched blindness and indisposition.
Aurelius was unerring when he observed the bizarre nature of man: so self-absorbed yet so concerned of others’ judgements of his nature; even more than his own. Vanity is not a detour that releases you from a lack of confidence. If you manage to curb and refine your egotism, amending any uncertainty and reforming your flaws, you will come to understand the clear edges of the external world; what is controllable and what isn’t. It appears to me that man’s vanity tends to come more from a posture of self-doubt than conviction. For if man was assured, he wouldn’t trouble himself by slights or feel injured by opinion. Such is the mark of man’s wretchedness; there is no other creature who matches up to his misery.
Misery makes you fragile, often self-pitying. And by wretchedness, you misjudge things. If you were firmer and less wretched, you would bear well founded judgement to tell things apart – you would not bother yourself with anything indifferent; your chief concern would be with things within reach. The poor and pitiful retard their might by clinging to outward things for safety and ease – they neither mature nor learn the art of self-government. Dependency is insecurity: if you were self-governing, your chief concern would be your opinion of yourself, not others’ of your own. You wouldn’t lie to or misdirect yourself to escape a troublesome reality. Other people are not the problem, how you deal with them and what you think are the seed of misfortune. You conquer yourself by breaking off the chains of attachment and journeying away from home. Look inside, not outside, to discover what you’re made of.
You can’t cling indefinitely, this apparent protection you discern in others is also tarnished by insecurity, as everything – you’ll never have total security. Being forever reliant and helpless, you never sense responsibility; you don’t grow ripe. True sovereignty is found outside the limitations of dependence through realizing the extremities of resilience. Dependence doesn’t exercise resilience and bravery scarcely manifests in the needy. Neediness is deprived of bravery: would they be so needy if they were more manly? Courageous deeds bring out the worth of man: the battleground being the expanding landscape, where safety is off duty and menace ever nearby. It is toil, hardship and patience – necessities that brush up character as you find out how to reconcile yourself to challenging duties. So, it is not dependence that directs virility, but your separation from it that will be the message-bearer.
Don’t allow reality to pass you by unnoticed. An existence curbed by ease and comfort is improper of man. Man has a moral obligation to cut the cord and burst the borders of subjugation to uncover and regain his merit. It is not so much about being optimistic as it is about your readiness to shoulder a threatening endeavour – in the grand scheme, confronting danger provokes the desirable transformation. Your treasured strengths lay barren amidst repose, but are honed amidst the hardship of heroic deeds. Man ought to habituate himself to difficulty to master his over-reliance. By learning how to deal with difficulty, you grow the thunderous monster within.
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