Debts And Lessons

The first “book” or chapter of Meditations is entitled “Debts And Lessons.” Marcus Aurelius devotes it entirely to thanking those people who’ve helped him throughout his life. He also names the specific qualities that each person imparted on him.


“My Grandfather Verus….Character and self control.”

“My Mother…Her reverence for the divine, her generosity, her inability not only to do wrong but even to conceive of doing it…”

“Maximus…Optimism in adversity–especially illness…”

Two observations.

One, it takes a village. Behind every great person throughout history are tons of people who’ve been instrumental in that person’s development. No one does it alone. The same holds true for manifesting our passion project. Even the solitary painter or novelist has collaborators, influencers and friends who assist that artist along the way.

Two, we’d be wise to stop looking for a unicorn, someone who does everything amazingly well. Instead, we should observe and learn from many different people in all areas of life. We can then select the specific qualities each person excels at and apply them to the areas we want to focus on. In the process, we’ll become more complete, well-rounded individuals.

And while you’re at it, think back on all the people who’ve helped you get to this point. Write them a thank you note expressing your gratitude for the lessons they taught you. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll have made someone’s day.

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