Imagine if you wrote a journal that you intended no one else would read. If you set those personal writings aside and returned ten years later, what theme would become clear? What part of your life or philosophy would you subconsciously write about again and again?
Last week, I finished reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. The book is considered one of the greatest philosophical works of all time, and it was written as a self-reflection that was never intended to be published.
Throughout the book, Aurelius goes back to a specific point. He writes that pain and death come from nature, so they are neither good nor evil. He continues that if something is indifferent, like pain and death, it cannot bother you, and you must endure it.
Over a period of time, Aurelius came back to this same theme over and over. Enduring pain, or ignoring it, was something that was deeply affecting him, and it shows through his self-reflection. As emperor of Rome, he was the most powerful man in the world, but he was not immune to suffering. Seven of his thirteen children died young, as well as his wife.
Marcus Aurelius, one of history’s greatest philosophers, was deeply affected by personal loss. Enduring suffering became one of his greatest values, and he sat down, day after day, and subconsciously repeated that same point.
Just like Marcus Aurelius, we each have our own theme. Something that takes hold over our thinking, even if it is subconscious, and affects our values and philosophy. It could be induced by your upbringing, education, or life experience. If you can recognize it, you will have a better understanding of your personal truth and why you view the world in a certain way.
If you were to sit down and write a personal reflection, what theme would become clear?