When studying Philosophy, the teachings of Marcus Aurelius stood out to me. Before learning of Stoicism, there were tenants of it that I already carried with me. Still, there were others I had to develop but could see myself growing into over time.
After talking with a friend about my love for Marcus Aurelius’s “Meditations”, he recommended a book for me to check out. I imagined my friend, always sharply dressed, riding the train, glued to a book on Stoicism. It reminds me of a photo straight off of Tumblr. It’s not too often you can spark up a random conversation with someone about Marcus Aurelius. God sure did bless me with some remarkable friends!
The book was Stoic-esque. It was a personal, modern day adaptation of Marcus Aurelius’s definition of Stoicism, a reworked “Meditations” for modern times.
The book urged its readers to reflect on the grand goal of life.
When you think of your grand goal in life, what first comes to mind?
I once dated a guy whose goal was to become a millionaire by 30. He worked diligently and obsessively towards attaining his goal and the status that comes along with being successful professionally. One dreary, rainy night he and I sat by the water. The sounds of the city echoed against the melody of pouring rain. Breaking the silence between us, he looked at me and said, “I accomplished everything I wanted so quickly, but I don’t know if I’m happy”.
Society will have us believe that the most important forms of success come to us as financial achievements, prestigious careers, and accumulation of luxury goods. However, oftentimes we can reach these goals and still not feel fulfilled. Comedian and actor, Jim Carrey summed it up best with, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
Accumulation does not equal fulfillment.
The admiration of others feels good and material luxuries are cool, but, for me personally, my grand goal of life has to do with my non-material needs. I want to live in passion. Explore my spirituality, visit shrines, meditate, listen for and to God, pray with those who pray differently than I, bathe in tears that pour down because I just experienced something so spiritually moving that all I can do is shed tears of profound gratitude. I want to explore different cultures. Learn how others love and express themselves. Understand what makes them happy, what afflicts them, angers them, calms them and empowers them. I want to thread their knowledge into my own and weave a blanket of warmth and compassion that I carry with me always. I crave ways to satisfy my intense curiosity. I want to read all the books I have so carefully acquired and all of the books that await me. I want to question everyone I can learn from… (which is everyone) and ask them if they had onlyONE piece of advice to share, what would it be. I want to quench my insatiable thirst… and that, for me, is my grand goal of life.
Here’s a photo from my day today. I visited the Shrine of St. Padre Pio and what a blessed, unexpected surprise did the day have in store!! A glove St. Padre Pio wore over his stigmata was being shared with visitors today. I was able to kneel before this sacred relic, pray, then be blessed. As I knelt before St. Padre Pio’s glove with my hand pressed against the glass frame which held it, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. Today, was an awesome day!