By Troy Headrick of Thinker Boy: Blog & Art
Toward the end of 2018, I started developing some bad habits. For example, I got sucked into spending too much time sitting in front of my TV. Having said that, I mostly watched stuff on the political debacle happening in the United States and elsewhere. I’m talking about the rise of what I think of as neo-fascist political culture and parties. In America, we have Trump as the personification of these ugly developments, but unfortunately, Europe is starting to see the rise of Trump lookalikes. Of course, all this is terribly worrying. But I digress.
So I decided—as many people do when they make resolutions for the new year—that I would watch less and read more. I figured this wouldn’t be onerous since there was a period in my life—not so long ago now—when I didn’t even own a “boob tube.” (It is certainly apropos that many in America refer to televisions in this slangy way.) But, again, I digress.
By the way, in some instances, the best way to get to the point is by following a roundabout route.
So, given my new resolution, I picked up, a couple of days or so ago, out of my own personal library, a book I’d already read a time or two but one that had had a profound effect on me in the past. I’d long felt the desire to reread it. This suddenly seemed like the perfect time to do so. The book I’m referring to is Meditations, the seminal work by Marcus Aurelius.
By the way, Marcus Aurelius is considered a stoic. I highly recommend that everyone learn more about the tenets of stoicism. I would also like to say, before I get much further, that Meditations is so full of wisdom, about life and how it should be lived, that I consider it a must-read, one of those books that will change your life and outlook (on many things).
One of the big themes of Meditations is mortality and how we all must come to terms with the fact that we’re not going to live forever. Moreover, as we move inexorably toward death and dissolution, we have to learn to become comfortable with watching ourselves age and decay. I know this sounds morbid, but think about it. Aging is something none of us can stop. We can take care of ourselves by exercising and eating well and meditating, but all of us will get older and disappear. I see this as the biggest psychic challenge human beings face—the challenge of aging and learning how to accept it. I say this because I have noted that some people age extremely well and others age very badly.
Today, in this blog, I simply want to introduce the topics of stoicism and aging. In my next, I would like to look at some case studies of those who are in the process of getting older. (These include people I actually know and have observed.) Of the people I’d like to write about, some are aging artfully and others, not so much.
So, until my next blog, I’d like you to think about aging and death. I’d like to request that you ponder the following questions: What does it mean to age well? And how is it that some people move through the various stages of life while remaining happy and relatively healthy while others become depressed, frustrated, and angry?