A few stoic ideas from an ancient text

Simple ideas have survived the test of time. Or have they? In my on-and-off attempts to read Marcus Aurelius, I’ve encountered much allusion to Stoicism, the same guiding principles we hear of today. Impressively, Marcus Aurelius produced his writings in the 2nd century of our era while assuming the throne of the Roman empire.

I paraphrase only small excerpts he documented in his introspective writings Meditations, which parallel heavily with the fundamentals of the Stoic philosophy.

There is something in the idea of the present moment. Rather than worryingly harvesting memories for the “right kind” of life, which creates dependence on longevity and reminiscence, acknowledge that memories are but a snapshot of the past that doesn’t really exist. Information is contained in the memories, yes, but in addition to a lot of noise. An overwhelming majority of noise, I would say.

Irrespective of own life span, when you depart, you have but the present moment and this memory snapshot. Don’t place weight on the snapshot, emphasize the moment and the exercise of reason, and you’ll live a meaningful and happy existence.

The notion of a mental retreat also intrigues me. I do fantasize about a certain kind of environment, to connect with the surroundings in a certain way, to feel a certain force, to evoke certain visuals, to imagine myself in a particular contortion of 4-dimensional space. Is this but nostalgia?

Has any physical retreat calmed an emotional turbulence or inspired an epiphany to a significant extent beyond a mental sanctuary? Have the merits of a physical retreat altered between the 2nd and the 21st centuries?

However, I cannot contest the importance of avoiding excesses, not philosophically as a minimalist, not aesthetically as an observer, not mechanically as an organic creature.