Few of us thoroughly consider the possibility of getting into a serious accident and how we might cope with such misfortune. Can you imagine yourself in a hospital bed for weeks on end without the full use of your body and senses? What would you do to pass your time if you were unable to move around, read a book or speak with visitors? It may be difficult to imagine this initially but with a little creative thinking we can mentally prepare ourselves in part for similar situations. Allow me to address this scenario through the wisdom of ancient philosophy:
“For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately in perfect tranquility; and I affirm that tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind.” – The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
The good ordering of the mind can be rendered as planning, evaluation, prevention and prioritizing first things first. By taking initiative to create a life built upon principles and values conducive to the common good, we can free up our minds from unnecessary doubt and uncertainty, thus enter into a peace of mind (tranquility) that grants one a wider capacity to decide and act appropriately within various circumstances.
What thoughts do you have close to your heart that will bring you solace in your day of hardship? Are these ideas transient and subject to change? Or are they solid as a house built upon a rock? Are these experiences begotten through self-discipline, service, contribution and sacrifice or are they fleeting as a one night stand? Do you have a storehouse of wisdom from which you can draw upon again and again in order to obtain consolation?
Here is a rough idea of the items being gathered into my treasure: Stories, quotes, passages and poems that belong to a number of people who lived throughout history. It’s a lot of information to draw upon, so here is one means to modify:
“Withdraw within yourself, and examine yourself. If you do not yet therein discover beauty, do as the artist, who cuts off, polishes, purifies until he has adorned his statue with all the marks of beauty…”
It is essential to deeply explore the content of our mind -which includes beliefs and opinions- for what is transparent, true and aligned with reality. Because we have come to understand the world about us through a dialectical process that has taken place over thousands of years, it would stand to make sense that some of those revolutionary shifts along the way would appear axiomatic. Such as the idea of loving your neighbour as yourself or attaining higher states of consciousness in view to alleviating suffering for all living creatures. Once you have retrieved beautiful gems from the dross, then you may freely remove…
“…from your soul, therefore, all that is superfluous, straighten out all that is crooked, purify and illuminate what is obscure, and do not cease from perfecting your statue until the divine resplendence of virtue shines forth upon your sight.” – Plotinus, Enneads (I,6,9)
As a creative artist we can proactively design our lives in accordance to principles that allow for clarity and tranquility, despite our rendezvous with suffering and deprivation. By purging ourselves of superficial and narcissistic tendencies we can enter into a domain of mind where neither moth nor rust destroy. We don’t have to wait for the worse to happen before we take measures.
Why not begin with the end in mind and gather together your own special collection of passages by which you can attain serenity in your darkest hour. Come to know it by heart rather than memorizing the words. Most things we memorize slip away in time but that which we keep close to our heart –whatever is true, good, right, pure, lovely, excellent and commendable– becomes life sustaining and echoes with the heartbeat of eternity.
Love & light,
“You will find rest from vain fancies if you perform every act in life as though it were your last.” – Marcus Aurelius