Can you believe those statistics? Competition like that can have you giving up or it can liberate you to do your own thing. After all you have nothing to lose. So I choose to be liberated. I choose random ramblings that connect us to life.
With an Italian background Roman history has always been an interest as has Rome itself. Walking the streets between the old and then the new is indescribable, a phenomenal co-existence of ancient and modern times.
I am a collector of quotes and one of my favourite sources is Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus. My knowledge of the man is limited to knowing that he was a Stoic philosopher, and a Roman Emperor from 161 to his death in 180. Referred to as one of the “Five Good Emperors” I am not surprised then to find myself enthralled by the beauty, intelligence and relevance of his words.
“Men seek retreats for themselves – in the country, by the sea, in the hills – and you yourself are particularly prone to this yearning. But all this is quite unphilosophic, when it is open to you, at any time you want, to retreat into yourself. No retreat offers someone more quiet and relaxation than that into his own mind…”
Is it a human failing to be both wise and ignorant, can wisdom and ignorance also co-exist in the way ancient and new architecture can? We look for answers in all the wrong places even now after hundreds of years. Our own minds if we allow them can give us the peace and tranquillity of the most expensive holiday. It all depends on how we choose to view things.
Stoicism, founded in Athens in the early 3rd century BC is a fascinating insight into humanity. Stoics believed destructive emotions resulted from mistakes (errors in judgment). They believed wise people possessing sterner morals and superior intellectual minds would not feel the destructive negativity. An individual’s own value and beliefs were not what the person said but how they behaved. Quotes, from Marcus reflect this and in modern times the word “stoic” remains a reference to the demeanour and strength of will.
I wish, don’t we all, that it was that simple. Imagine if we could just choose to be tranquil, to approach endeavours with calm, thoughtful actions and remain that way despite the results. I wish simplicity because I chose to undertake a project that is dependent on others opinions. In these circumstances remaining positive or even sane is difficult.
Granted things combine to shape us into less than perfect individuals but it is still down to choices. We choose however to blind ourselves because the discipline required to find peace within ourselves is almost shockingly difficult. Good behaviour, decent and fair actions are also similarly difficult to maintain in view of our competitive and often dangerous world. We are human and it seems to me that this frailty of character is one that is ongoing.
Marcus’s generation saw the problems but couldn’t solve them. Neither can we if we don’t look inside ourselves, and be at peace doing it. If our minds are distracted solutions fly out of reach and we look for the holiday in the hills, at the beach, anything to make us feel better. I just read a great post from Jessica Abel. It is about finding solutions and it seems they really are inside ourselves. If you have time, click a button and wander over. It’s a great piece about how we approach and set out those desired projects.
When I started my novel I didn’t have a specific plan in mind. It was a just a long-desired project. A recent review suggested I am a dark contemporary writer (characters are flawed) and I found myself breathing easier because someone understood what I had set out to do. It however didn’t guarantee sales. Try staying positive under those circumstances!
I decided I was just as flawed as my characters and needed to be stoic. In an unquenchable thirst for what we see as happiness flaws come out and play and they don’t always play nicely. No-one has told them about my friend Marcus and his ideas. Nico, my too-often unlikeable lead in Unexpected Obsession, searches for outside experiences to scratch the itch, his discomfort with the world. It isn’t until he falls in love with Lia that he understands his behaviour determines outcomes.
I explore flaws in people and I explore how flaws are self-determined. Do I explore this well as a writer? I am a learner driver who can appreciate the fact that if one person understood where I was going there will be others. If I keep the stoic faith and keep working at improving then who knows what will happen. My roots are steeped in Roman history.