4 Things to Take Seriously

Life is serious. For many, insert my own raised hand, the legacy we leave behind is just as serious. To leave this world a little better than you found it is a noble goal.

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Dale Carnegie stated in How to Win Friends and Influence People, that there is nothing sweeter than hearing the sound of your own name.

To have your name attached to that improvement in perpetuity is icing on the cake. Didn’t someone once say, you are only truly dead when you are forgotten?

Maybe it is possible to hear your own name beyond the grave. If not, then why does it really matter?

How many remember The Beatles song “Here Comes the Sun”? If you are over 40, there is a good chance you do and can even sing the main line and hum the few bars that follow. The song is over 50 years old. Yet a good portion of the world’s population remembers it. Surviving this long is an amazing feat. How long will it last before it is completely forgotten? Now, think about Marion Harris’s song, “After You’ve Gone.” Do you remember it? This chart-topping song came out 50 years before Here Comes the Sun.

What was popular then has faded away. And what is popular today will eventually share the same fate.

Things will get lost in time. Languages, cultures, and civilizations will crumble and turn to dust.

We take our legacy seriously. We want to say our lives have meaning and the measuring stick is how long we will be remembered after our bodies are no more. But even the greatest names of humanity’s ancient past will drift off into obscurity.

Where does that leave us?

The first king of Israel was Saul. He was a tall, good-looking man, and the leader of God’s chosen people. One could say that he had at all. Yet, he had a problem. As Fr. Mike Schmitz explains it on The Bible in a Year podcast, Saul suffered from the sin of vanity. And what is vanity? He was overly preoccupied with what people thought of him. Two kings later,  Solomon would in Ecclesiastes 1:2 say, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” I’ve often wondered about this saying. But it wasn’t until I understood Saul,  that I could understand Solomon’s words. It was then that I could see my own problems and how my life has been one of vanity even from my earliest age.

Does it mean I should stop chasing my legacy?  Well, if I want to remove vanity from my life, then yes,  I should leave it behind. Can I do that and still have a positive impact on the world? The answer again is yes. My focus shouldn’t be on the results but rather on what I am doing today.

Here are four things I should take seriously rather than worrying about my legacy.

#1 A just mind

If you want to be righteous, you need two things: right thoughts and right actions. The first component of that is right thoughts. Our mind is a sacred enclosure, and no thoughts can enter into it without our permission. This begins with what we consume.  If I litter my mind with garbage, then it won’t be long before that garbage permeates into my thinking.  And that  in time will affect my actions. To have a just mind, I must begin to permeate it with good material which in turn will lead to good thoughts.

#2 Socially useful actions.

These actions are not a green light to be a member of The Social Media Thought Police. Instead, it is how I can make my little place in the universe better. Modern technology has given us the ability to have a global outreach, but are we reaching out in our community as well? Setting up a nonprofit in a remote place on the other side of the world is wonderful. Also wonderful is helping your neighbor in need, picking up a piece of trash on the sidewalk, and opening the door for the lady walking behind you. Small things done daily to make your community better will have a lasting impact over time.

#3 Speech that never lies.

We could imagine a world filled with nothing but truth. Politics, media, big corporations, the used car dealer down the street. Sadly, we are surrounded by corrupt people whose objective is to deceive for their own personal gain. Not everybody is like this, but there are enough bad apples causing us to question the whole bunch.

 We cannot force others to the truth. After all, they are doing what is right in their own eyes. The only speech we can control is the ones that come from our own mouths. We can be the bearers of truth. We can assure that our words are trustworthy.

#4 Welcome everything that happens as necessary.

As much as we like, we cannot control outside events. What we can control is our own response to it. Why did the universe put this unfortunate event in our lap? Who knows? Fortune gives and also takes away. Can this event make me a better person? Of course. That is part of our response to the event. By itself, the event cannot make us a worse person. Our response to the event, however, can make us a better person.

In any case, what is it to be remembered forever? Nothing but vanity. So what should one take seriously? Only the following: a just mind, socially useful actions, speech that only ever tells the truth, and the ability to welcome everything that happens as necessary, as comprehensible by reason, and as flowing from an equally rational original source.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 4.33

Vanity of vanities, how can I remove vanity from my life? I can move my focus from the future and put it in the present where it belongs. I can take these four things from Marcus Aurelius seriously and work on them daily. Doing this will make me a better person and cement the legacy I imagine.

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The Short Road

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Always run the short road, and the short road is the one that’s in accord with nature. Say and do everything, then, in the most sound way possible. With that kind of purpose, one is freed from fatigue, hesitation, ulterior motives, and affectation.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 4.51

The quickest way to get from Point A to Point B is to take the direct route. No detours, no sight-seeing, no dilly-dallying. If this is the highway, then it is hammer down and go.  If there is an obstacle in the way, then it is best to go through it or go around with the hopes of getting back on as soon as possible.

Our lives are best lived going directly from A to B. Unfortunately, it rarely happens that way.

On the highway, we see the signs. Here for gas, another for food, and another for lodging. Though often necessary, these detours often add time to the journey. With traffic up ahead, we take the alternate route winding up and down smaller, slower roads broken up by the occasional traffic light.

As we journey through life, we see the same issues. Straight ahead down the planned path is ideal, but we are met with detours, distractions, and unexpected delays forcing us away from the road we desire to travel.

Take our health for example. Imagine if from a young age, we ate only healthy foods, stayed active, and got the proper amount of sleep every night. What would our bodies look like? It is an ideal path for optimum health, yet one that may no longer even be possible in our modern world. Instead, we eat only for pleasure and convenience, indulging in destructive food and drinks that come from a laboratory rather than nature. And if you are anything like me, you spend the remainder of your days trying to get back on the path you should have been on from the beginning.

Our health is only one part of the journey. How many other detours have we taken that have set us back socially, professionally, and financially? How many times have we been detoured by bad advisors and friends, distracted by costly vices, or fell victim to our own inability to maintain pressure on life’s accelerator.

We stopped to smell the roses and found ourselves tangled in the thorns.

Every time we have left the path, we have gotten farther away from our intended destination. We have made our travels more difficult. Sometimes, we have even stopped along the way and never resumed the journey.

Unless we have lived the perfect life, we have all been down the wrong road a time or two. Personally, I have been down so many wrong roads, I have often been unable to find my way back. Wrong choices that cost me years away from my journey, that forced me to completely redesign my route.

What can be done?

The farther away from the path increases our stress, makes us more tired, and deteriorates our confidence. What should have been the highway has become the untraveled dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Though it is not the ideal place to be, all is not lost. The destination has not moved, only our locations in relationship to it.

From your current location in life:

This new route may no longer be the highway, but the roads will improve the closer we get back to it.

I learned this at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.

Henry David Thoreau

To get where we want to go, we must keep going. A journey of a lifetime cannot be completed in one day. The way is long, so we must travel a little bit of it every day. One foot in front of the other, one mile then the next. Win the day and keep stacking victories one upon the other. In time, we will be amazed at just how far we have come.

Giving Away Your Strength

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Strength has become my passion and a fundamental part of my business. My goal in life is to be as strong as possible. My goal in business is to get my clients as strong as they possibly can.

With strength, an individual can sail into their senior years confident they can perform everyday tasks needed to both survive and thrive. Greater strength reduces the risk of falls and accidents. It reduces the risk of age-related diseases such as osteoporosis, sarcopenia, heart disease, and diabetes. Imagine looking and feeling younger than your actual age. Imagine running around with your grandchildren and not having to worry whether you can keep up. With a foundation of strength, this is a possibility.

Once you have strength, you will do everything in your power to keep it. You make better nutritional decisions, have better sleep hygiene, improve stress management, and in general, you become more active. Lean muscle tissue is metabolically expensive. The last thing you want to do with that hard-won strength is give it away.

I do everything within my power to protect and build my strength. Maintaining bodily strength is not that difficult. The major requirement is to do the work.

There is more to strength than the physical. And while I won’t readily give away the physical, I have recently started giving away the mental. Lately, I have been floundering in a raging sea of:

  • Current world events,
  • Current local events,
  • Past events, and
  • Future possible events.

So much is going on in the world, and I have been trying desperately to make sense of it all. There once was a time when life was slower. The news came a day, week, or a month later. Communication was through letters or maybe a phone call. A person’s focus was on doing the tasks of the day that would ensure food, clothing, and shelter was available to family and loved ones. People did what they had to do to survive and spent little time worrying about everything else.

Maybe I am not alone in this. Maybe I am not the only one struggling to stay as strong mentally as I am physically. The temptation is to shut it all down. If the sky is falling and the world is going to pieces, who am I to stop it? And that may be my greatest question because I can’t stop it. I do not have the power to stop a financial crisis, a plague, or an asteroid from hitting the earth. I can prepare for the worst and hope for the best, but things outside of my control will remain outside of my control.

You have power over your mind not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.

Marcus Aurelius

Committing mental energy to things outside of my sphere of influence is a poor investment and an expensive waste of time. Even worse, I am giving away my strength and no longer serving others. How am I living my purpose on this earth by focusing on that which is out of my control? I am not, and therefore, I must get stronger and put my focus where it belongs.

Emperor’s Log #24: If Possible, You Can Do It

I know my son is only nine. And maybe he is a little too young for the lectures and consistent push to become better. But I take the responsibility as a father very serious. If I don’t push him now, who will? If he doesn’t learn these lessons early in life, will he be like me and learn them way too late? Looking back, I wish I had someone to push me when I was his age. I wish there was someone that explained to me the why’s and the reasoning. Mostly, I remember the “do this” and more often “don’t do that” commands. And though those rules helped, the logic behind them would have been of far greater benefit.

It was another sub-par wrestling practice. Alec went through the drills half-heartedly. He was distracted, emotionally uninvested, and lacking a positive energy. It was every coach’s frustration. When it came down to the actual wrestling at the end of the session, my bigger, stronger, and fitter son lost every time. EVERY TIME! He was frustrated and knew another lecture was coming. What did we talk about?

Everything Matters.

The drills, the practices, what one eats, drinks, reads, and watches matter. The little things that seem unimportant—they matter. How we do the little things in life will ultimately determine how we do the big things. When Alec tells me that he wants to be a professional soccer player when he grows up, he is basically telling me that he wants to be in the top .001% of soccer players in the world. Well, that is elite, and elite players don’t practice half-heartedly, regardless of the sport.

One sport helps the other.

Wrestling and soccer are on the opposite ends of the sporting spectrum. Since these are the two sports Alec plays, we need to find the commonality between them. How can one improve the performance of the other?

A great wrestler needs to be in peak physical condition. There needs to be mental toughness, strength, and the ability to adapt. With hundreds of possible moves that are only applicable in certain situations, we went over the need for practice. Practice goes beyond the actual scheduled days. We must be able to drill on our own. We must become students of the game. The discipline and attentiveness that we develop in wrestling will make us better soccer players.

Soccer, on the other hand, is a team sport that requires speed, endurance, and great communication skills. The great players are both followers and leaders. They can coach as well as play. These are also great skills for a wrestler.

As individual as a sport as wrestling is, it is still a team sport. The team is not only hoping for great individual performance, but they are also hoping for the team’s overall success. We are only as good as those around us. Our teammates elevate us to greatness, we elevate them.

The brains behind it all.

Success in both sports requires some serious mental processing power. Strategy, split-second decision making, and understanding all the little nuances is not a talent we are given at birth. It is developed. To become a master at anything, we must first become students. The more we read, study, and learn, the better prepared we are for whatever life throws at us whether on the soccer pitch, on the wrestling mat, or in the board room. What is between the ears is just as important as our bones and muscles.

Wanting to reach the elite level at anything is a huge endeavor. He wants it. Can he do it?

Not to assume it’s impossible because you find it hard. But to recognize that if it’s humanly possible, you can do it too.

Marcus Aurelius

It is a tall order. Some would say it is impossible. But, if it is humanly possible, then yes, he can do it too.

And before someone thinks I am some evil tyrant of a father, let me explain. I am not trying to pursue my athletic dreams through him. Alec and I are in this together. If he wants to be out there, then all I want for him is to give his best. When he is no longer wanting to compete or no longer enjoying it, he can move on to other more enjoyable pursuits. I want him to be happy. I want him to have fun. But I also want to prepare him to meet the challenges of an uncertain future.

Emperor’s Log #42: Utter Stillness

I spend a good amount of my time planning. When other obligations prevent me from executing my plans, then my mind will continue the planning process while the rest of my being is on autopilot. The planning is good. It increases my productivity and reduces wasted time.

When is the planning mind not wanted? When I am meditating.

Meditation is not a time for me to spend planning. Granted, I do a little each session since I have adopted a new meditation strategy. Here is my current practice that I learned from Ben Greenfield:

  • 2 minutes breathing
  • 2 minutes of gratitude
  • 2 minutes of visualizing my day (planning)
  • 1 minute of breathing.

This is a short and sweet practice that I have programmed on my Insight Timer app. Though this is an easy meditation to follow, I still struggle with it. The first two minutes of breathing should be easy. All I need to do is relax and follow my breath. In and out and nothing else on my mind. Two minutes is not that long, yet I consistently lose focus and allow my mind to wander. If I don’t check it quick enough, I will forget my breathing altogether and allow my thoughts to run rampant for the duration of the session. Rather than mastering my thoughts, I allow my thoughts to master me.

Shrug it all off and wipe it clear -every annoyance and distraction and reach utter stillness.

Marcus Aurelius

Achieving stillness is a practice.

This is my goal: utter stillness. The only way I can get to it is to wipe away the distractions. It is a practice I struggle with. But by continuing to practice, I hope to one day achieve mastery.

Practicing stillness is also an art. I must be aware of my mind and what I am thinking. My mind wants to wander. This is its nature and one I must be cognizant of. I cannot allow it to upset me. I cannot go to war with my mind and attempt to force it into submission. This is not stillness but internal turmoil. When a thought is generated while meditating, I must receive it, appreciate the fact that I am still able to generate new thoughts, and then let it go back to the ether. The good thoughts can be retrieved later without disturbing the meditation session.

Clearing the muddy waters requires stillness. When our own minds are not clear, we are not at peace. Only in stillness can we clear our minds.

Bruce Lee, from the book Be Water, My Friend by Shannon Lee

If my mind is the muddy water, then I cannot continue to stir it. To clear the water, or my mind, I must find stillness. To do this, I will go back and heed Marcus Aurelius’ words: shrug it off and wipe away the annoyances and distractions. Therefore, my only choice is to continue practicing.

Emperor’s Log #20 ‘Tis the Season…for Patience

It is the time of year when friends and family gather around to celebrate the holidays. It is a time for joy. For some, it is also a time of stress. Last minute shopping, decorating, and cooking can take its toll. And then, there is that one family member (or maybe more) who is the proverbial thorn in the side. Or there is the co-worker at the Christmas party that draws the ire of all.

What can we do about the ones that get underneath our skins and are content to stay there throughout the holiday season? We can look to these words from Marcus Aurelius and use them to our advantage:

Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.

Meditations 5.33

Peace on earth or at least in the family gathering starts with us. We have our own standards to maintain. We have the discipline that has guided us through the years and up to this point. Moments like these is what we have been preparing for. The only ball we should be dropping is the red one to ring in the New Year. We do this by being strict with ourselves. We don’t get goaded into the opposing ideologies that separates loved ones and adds tension to the holiday meal. We hold the line as the sovereign rulers of our minds and bodies.

What do we not do? We don’t hold others to the incredibly high standards we have set for ourselves. No, for them we must be tolerant. When it comes to a “good” life, we can lead by example rather than try to force others into compliance. This is the high road we must seek and stay on.

And yet, these words are easier to write than to do. Too many times, I have cast judgment on others. Too many times when my heart should have been full of peace, love, and happiness, it had been resentful, bitter, and arrogant. It has been those times when the foundations of all my progress had crumbled. I didn’t hold the line. Instead, I only expected others to hold it.

The standards I have set for myself are my standards and mine alone. We all have our own paths to follow. Why should I expect others to follow mine?

I am convinced that my way is the right way. It is only out of love that I would hope others adopt my way of thinking. Yet, if I preach love but don’t show love, then love is truly not in my heart. If my words do not harmonize with my actions, then I am nothing more than a hypocrite. Therefore, I must hold to the words I preach. Love, compassion, and understanding. Tolerance with others; strict with myself.

Convince them if you can. And if not, remember: the capacity for patience was given to us for a reason.

Meditations 9.11

Patience. If differences arise during these festive gatherings, a healthy debate should be acceptable. But if it gets heated, we should remember our training and the purpose of the occasion in which we are gathered. Convince them if you can. Otherwise, be patient. Patience is a form of love we should express freely and abundantly.

May you have peace this holiday season. May it be merry and bright.

Emperor’s Log #6 What Should We Prize?

What was I designed to do? I study, learn, experience, and try to help others. I take of myself, my family, and the land I live on. When I work toward these pursuits, I am doing what I was designed to do.

What was I not designed to do? Everything that was not mentioned above. Everything else falls into one of two categories: laziness and procrastination. I was not designed to be lazy. And if I get busy doing something I was not designed to do, then I am just procrastinating on the things I was designed to do. I was built for action, not inaction.

*What is it in ourselves that we should prize?

What is it in ourselves that we should prize?

I think it’s this: to do (and not to do) what we were designed for. That’s the goal of all trades, all arts, and what each of them aims at: that the thing they create should do what it was designed to do.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditation 6:16

Going after the things I wasn’t designed to do will leave me in a bad state. My soul will desire what it is not getting. I will be always wanting and never satisfying the hunger within. And the worst part is that I will be gaining that which I do not want. For example, my body was designed to be in motion and to eat real food. If instead, I choose to sit around all day and eat junk, I will not be doing what I was designed to do. Instead of getting the body I want, I will get a body that is weak and fat.

And if you can’t stop prizing a lot of other things? Then you’ll never be free—free, independent, imperturbable. Because you’ll always be envious and jealous, afraid that people might come and take it all away from you.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditation 6:16

Free, independent, imperturbable. That is the prize of doing what we were designed for. That is a prize we should all pursue.

Feature photo by Fauzan Saari on Unsplash

Emperor’s Log #18 Purpose, People, and Obstacles

Our job

What is my purpose on this earth? When I think about it, I am reminded of Henry Ford’s definition of success: to do more for the world than the world does for you. If I take these words to heart, then my purpose is to leave the earth a little better than when I came into it. This could be the whole world, my community, or my family. How large I choose to make my scope will determine how valuable I am to the world.

This has not always been my belief. As a young adult, I lived solely for myself. My selfish intentions were my priority. Rather than a contributor, I was a consumer only concerned with obtaining my base desires. I was only a small speck in the universe. A little dot with hardly an effect on the other dots.

But then things changed. The first catalyst was marriage. I had to consider somebody else. The transition was not easy for I was still a very selfish boy. But in time, I learned the hard truth that if I only pursued my own interests, my relationship with my wife would not last. Therefore, I changed. Just a small bit, but still a change.

I went from a dot to a segment interacting with another dot. My universe doubled from its previous state.


Then came fatherhood. My paradigm shifted yet again. The segment became a triangle. My universe expanded. My interests became even less selfish. Now, I was tasked with expanding each leg, tasked with more than developing my own point but the other two points. How can this triangle fit into the puzzle of the universe? How can it grow, be dynamic, and robust? Someday, my son will go off and find his own geometry in this life. What can I do to influence the pattern?

When it comes down to it, our job in life is people. It is to connect the dots and strengthen each segment. This is our purpose. How many connections can we make? How can we improve the dots around us, so the segments are strengthened? How can our own dots be made more desirable to connect with others?

All We Can Do Is Try

In peer-to-peer relationships, all we can do is try. We can try to make stronger connections, improve others, and ourselves, but even our best intentions are not always well-received. We cannot make others improve or have strong connections with us. The simple fact is that not everyone wants to same things as we do. Some relationships cannot be strengthened. Some dots cannot be connected.

Should this trouble us? Indeed not! Once again, all we can do is try. We can want the best, intend the best, but we cannot impose our will upon others.

Then what should we do? Should we give up? Of course not! Maybe it is a sign that our approach is not the best one. Maybe we should try a different tactic. A teacher should not give up on a student who does not understand the content. Instead, the teacher should leave behind the cookie-cutter approach and implement a different method. This will require creativity but will also benefit both the teacher and the student.

What Stands in the Way Becomes the Way

Our path is not always straight. It is not always sunny days and pleasant breezes. We are often met with obstacles that have the power to stop us dead in our tracks.  We could give up. We could tell ourselves that what we have chosen is too difficult, and it would be better to not even attempt to proceed.

Not all obstacles can be attacked in the same way. Like the teacher and the student, some obstacles require different approaches. For the obstacles that stand in our way, we must start with the logical and see if it works. Often, this requires many attempts, many failures, and many trips back to the drawing board. But no matter how many setbacks, we cannot give up. We must remember that everything we want lies on the other side. We must attack and overcome that which stands in the way.

In a sense, people are our proper occupation. Our job is to do them good and put up with them. But when they obstruct our proper tasks, they become irrelevant to us—like sun, wind, animals. Our actions may be impeded by them, but there can be no impeding our intentions or our dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 5.20

Feature photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

Emperor’s Log #16: Love Your Nature

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?

The alarm goes off at 4 a.m. If I am lucky, I got over six hours of sleep. The quality of the sleep is directly related to how well I spent the previous day. This morning, as is with every morning, is begun with a choice: I could get up, or I could sleep another hour. Granted, that hour would be fitful, and at best, would result in only a few minutes of light sleep. Even with the realization of these minimal benefits, I must consider how soft the bed is, how warm it is under the covers, and how good it feels to remain horizontal. To lie in bed for another hour does have its consequences. I set my alarm for a reason. Not getting out of bed would mean I miss my morning workout, skip my meditation and reading, and negatively impact the quality of my writing. Is it worth it?

-But it’s nicer here….

So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing 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 do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?

What is my nature? I love how Aurelius tells us to look at the other creatures on this planet and observe how they go about their natural business.

The ant starts the day early. She has a mission to find food and bring it back to the colony. This happens in the warmer months so that the colony can survive during the winter. The ant is always busy. Being busy for the sake of being busy is nothing to brag about. But the ant, she is busy with a purpose. She is doing what is in her nature. I’m reminded of these words from Solomon: “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.” -Proverbs 6:6-8

I used to be that sluggard. Oh, I wanted to be more active, but it was “nice” being lazy. I didn’t have a mission, and I didn’t even know where to go to find one. There was no purpose to my life. How much did I miss out on due to this lifestyle? Who knows! I thought I had an infinite amount of time, and I could always be more productive the next day.

Agreed. But nature 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.

Nature set a limit on how long to stay in bed, on how long to wait around before getting to work as a human being. We produce melatonin at night to help us sleep. Our cortisol levels are elevated in the morning signaling us to get moving. We are governed by our biology which has been optimized through the ages thanks to our ancestors. We are highly evolved, functioning machines. The only thing that can override these natural processes is our minds.

The alarm that tells me to get up in the morning was created by intelligent beings. And though they had the best intentions, the alarm has a built-in flaw. There is a little button on it called the snooze, which can be pressed as many times as the one in bed wants to press it.

When I went to bed the night before, I gave myself a limit on how long to sleep. I set my wake-up time based on that limit. Going over the limit puts my plans for the day in jeopardy. These plans are important to me. It is my work, what I was called to do as a human.

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 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.

This is about love! Once you have found your calling in life, then you have no choice but to follow it. Pablo Picasso created over 140,000 works of art in his lifetime. Mozart composed over 600 pieces. Isaac Asimov, not even the most prolific writer, wrote over 500 novels. They loved what they did. They were fueled by their passion. They lived according to their nature.

I know I squandered much of my early years. The past cannot be changed, yet the future still holds untold possibilities. If I don’t want to repeat the errors of my youth, then I must see to the business of the day. No snooze, only purpose. It is time to get up and practice my art.

Italicized words by Marcus Aurelius, Mediations 5:1

Feature photo by Maria Ziegler on Unsplash

Emperor’s Log #4: What’s Really There

Let us pretend for a moment. Let us pretend we are enemies.

If I was your enemy, what would you do? Would you openly attack? Attempt to publicly shame me? Would you go out of your way to do me harm?

And as for me, if I was your enemy, what would I do? Well, after careful consideration, I would employ the tactics of the devil. I would smile and let you believe that I am your friend. I would try to direct you in the direction I would want you to go using subtle persuasion and humility. Shoot! I might even try to tell you the devil’s greatest lie: That I don’t exist. It is hard to fight an enemy if you don’t know he is even there.

Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.

Sun Tzu

If I were your enemy, my goal would be to break you without ever fighting. But thank the Light, we are not enemies.


Manipulation by those in power

Fake news

Et cetera, et cetera

Not what your enemy sees and hopes that you will, but what's really there. -Marcus Aurelius

Oftentimes, we don’t know we have enemies. We don’t know we are in a battle. We are not even aware of our adversaries’ existence. Yet, they are there. They are trying to direct us where they want us to go. They are trying to break our resistance without fighting.

What can we do?

We must seek out what is really there, not what is easily seen on the surface, not what our enemies want us to see.

How can we do this?

We must become our own fact-checkers. We must listen to our hearts. And when our hearts tell us something is amiss, we must do the research and solve the riddles dressed in plain sight.

Feature photo by Tengyart on Unsplash