Facebook had a blurb, Who Would You Talk to for 15 Minutes That Are Departed? There are so many people that come to mind. My parents, who have been gone for many years now. A friend who took his life and left way too soon. The best companion and friend I've ever had. He had four legs and stood beside me through life's ups and downs for 13 years. There's questions I want to ask. Feelings and thoughts I left unsaid. How do you choose just one person? You, Marcus, are the one person that has gone through everything I have had to endure. Death, suffering, self-sacrifice, and betrayal were all losses that you faced at one time or the other.
You never wanted the life that you were chosen to lead. History remembers you as one of the 'Five Good Emperors.' There's so much more to you, the man and the person, than just that. Stoicism played a large part in the decisions that you made. Even after you became Emperor, you lived a life filled with humbleness and a willingness to give yourself to others. Your motto was our "task is to be a good human being...doing what nature demands of people. Do it without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy."1
Death and suffering were daily experiences for you. How did you the bear the loss of not one child, but several? How did you bear the pain of seeing literally millions of people die agonizing deaths for 15 years? Life was uncertain,and usually short, in your time. Your writings constantly remind us to make the most of the time we have. Call that friend. Walk your dog. Love today with all our hearts, and make the most of our time with our loved ones.
Thank you for giving me a sense of purpose. Not only a sense of purpose, but a method of achieving this. Thinking and responding to the situations that have arose in my life have made me stronger, given me confidence, and gained me respect in the workplace. I know your journals were written for your own use, but I'm glad they endured through time so I have access to them today. In addition, thank you for the example you set of your life. You never wavered in your beliefs or in your efforts to help your family and people. I consider myself fortunate be able to have you as a paragon in my life.
The phrase you used to define your life is the basic building block of Stoicism, Amor Fati: love of fate. I think you don't have to necessarily love what happens to you. Nobody want to lose a loved one, get sick, be fired, or all the other hurtful things that happen to us in our lifetime. What is important, is seeing the potential that comes out of experiencing these events. I gained a greater empathy towards others. In addition, I have a stronger, more profound belief in myself. Knowing that I have the inner strength to overcome personal obstacles has given me increased self confidence and self worth.
“Be like a rocky promontory against which the restless surf continually pounds; it stands fast while the churning sea is lulled to sleep at its feet. I hear you say, "How unlucky that this should happen to me!" Not at all! Say instead, "How lucky that I am not broken by what has happened and am not afraid of what is about to happen. The same blow might have struck anyone, but not many would have absorbed it without capitulation or complaint.”3