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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

No Pockets In A Shroud...

One of today's readings in our "Words of the Ancient Wise" blog was the following:

"THOSE things that are his own, and in his own power, he himself takes order for that they be good : and as for those that happen unto him, he believes them to be so. MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iii. 4"

My comment based on this reading was:  " Instead of looking to the future, the acquisition of more, etc. let us look to that which we have now. Let's ensure that we are taking care of those things that are in our charge, i.e. our bodies, our family, our home, etc. We have enough in our lives to be stewards of without wishing for more and actively pursuing the acquisition of more. The one with the most toys at the end of the day most certainly is not the winner. I think the one with the ordered life, with well cared for loved ones, body and home is the absolute winner."

An ordered life, this is the proof of a Stoic's success.  Having honest relationships with family, closeness with spouses and children, friends like family, an ordered home in good repair, etc.    An ordered life....   As illustrated in Steven Covey's famous analogy of the jar of rocks, we need to constantly be assessing our lives to be sure our "big rocks" are put into our life jar first.  We often get distracted and the big rocks can get left out in order to fit more of the gravel and sand in.  Let's take a step back and do some reassessing, ensuring that none of our big rocks are left out of our jar.  What things are the most important to us?  What time do we need to devote to these things?  What time do we have left, if any, to fit in the smaller rocks, gravel and sand?  Do we have the room to add water as well?  

Our society tends to emphasize the pursuit of wealth and the trappings of wealth, toys, that this lifestyle can bring.  Anyone who has spent anytime pursuing these things knows that the emotional high that comes from these things is brief and extremely fleeting.  Often we are left with the toys as a reminder of how not to live our lives.  My father had a favourite saying when giving to charity or to people in need...  There are no pockets in a shroud... In other words when we leave this world we will take nothing with us... no money, no "toys", etc.  The only thing that we will leave behind is a legacy of love and memories and friendship.  These are the things that we should actively pursue and we often need to take the time to make some course corrections.  Like a sailing ship on a route, we often need to reassess and back track a little to ensure that the winds of life have not knocked us off of our course.  Our course is filled with the big rocks and yet we get bogged down in the sand bars amongst the gravel and minutiae of  living.

We tend to, especially in our modern day, lose sight of the big to medium rocks from time to time.  Our time becomes filled with social obligations, technology and busyness.  When we neglect the big rocks we begin to feel lost and empty.  Let's all of us take some time this August to do a personal inventory and ensure that we reorder our lives to allow for our big rocks first!

My big rocks are Self, Spouse, Children, Family and Close Friends.  The teaching of Stoic philosophy is also a big rock for me.  My home is a big rock as well.  Already this seems like a tall order and an insurmountable task.  I have found that time management programs and household management programs help me to ensure that I have the time to get the big rocks of my life taken care of.  If any of my readers are looking for tools to help them I would recommend the Getting Things Done system by David Allen and the FlyLady system ( as effective tools to use on a daily basis.  

I am going to schedule time with my husband, Michel, to ensure that we have adjusted our routines and priorities to focus on our big rocks moving forward into the busyness of fall/winter.  Please feel free to message me if you are looking for any further info on tools, etc.  :)