“What’s left to be prized? This, I think — to limit our action or inaction to only what’s in keeping with the needs of our own preparation… it’s what the exertions of education and teaching are all about — here is the thing to be prized! If you hold this firmly, you’ll stop trying to get yourself all the other things… If you don’t, you won’t be free, self-sufficient, or liberated from passion, but necessarily full of envy, jealousy, and suspicion for any who have the power to take them, and you’ll plot against those who do have what you prize… But by having some self-respect for your own mind and prizing it, you will please yourself and be in better harmony with your fellow human beings, and more in tune with the gods — praising everything they have set in order and allotted you.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.16.2b-4a
There is a great speech by philosopher Alan Watts that I heard a few years ago when I was feeling quite lost in life. He said that the purpose of life isn’t to get to a certain finish line just like dance is not about reaching a particular point on the floor and music is not about hitting a certain note. Instead, quite like dance and music, “life was simply about dancing…while the music was playing”. Now that I think about it, there is more to it. While we are dancing, we should simply focus on our own dance and not worry or envy the dance of other people. No accolades or monuments await us at the end of our dance instead, it is just the dance we get to enjoy. We don’t control anything else and we must respect that. The only way to live a life of meaning and fulfillment is to dance while we can and enjoy it, ignoring everything else and everyone else. Appreciate the dance floor. Enjoy the music. And just…dance.
This article is a part of my Stoic Musings challenge, inspired by the book “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, where I take a quote from the book and reflect on it, every day.