An Imitation of Book I of Marcus Aurelius

I recently attended the baptism of my friend’s first child, and I was reminded of the gift the many friends I have, and of my family as well.  And so, as a reminder to myself of what I owe them and God, I am publishing little imitation of the first book of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, in which he lists all that he has learned from others in his life.  I do this here as a Catholic Christian, but I hope this will be relatable to all who happen to come upon it.  (Also, note that I am limiting the number of people in this “imitation” to 17, partly because Marcus did, but also partly because I had to limit it somehow; the list would be endless otherwise.  So don’t feel left out if I don’t mention you here.  All my friends are of great value to me!

1. From my grandfather, Robert Taylor:  the spirit that thirsts for life, and does not shun any attempt to live it.

2. From my grandfather, Robert Watts:  the grace to live through others.

3. From my grandmother, Iris Duquesne:  the love and enjoyment of family.

4. From my grandmother, Sally:  the value of worldly things

5. From my father, Richard:  that I could do whatever I wanted, as long as I was willing to accept the consequences; the value of hard work and manual labor; that beautiful things are not to be destroyed, but cherished; that distance is a necessary part of any relationship; and that love need not speak in order to express itself. To him also, I owe the material circumstances of my existence, which have been a most gracious, but unearned blessing. It was my father who has instilled in me most of what I know of how to be a man: to love virtue, to despise those who live or prosper at the expense of others; and above all, to live as if there were higher things in life than making a living, when all the while my father made it his goal in life to provide for the living of his sons and daughters. Not an intellectual, nor one who even especially respects them, he has made it possible for me to pursue the life of the mind, as far as I have been able to. In short, my heavenly father gave me this earthly father, that I might seek Him, and honor both with my life.

6. From my mother, Holly:  that my feelings are not the center of the universe; that sacrifice is the primary expression of love; and that love need never to express itself at all, even in speech.

7. From my brother, Ben:  the love of family trumps all; that one not need understand another totally and completely in order to love them; that sometimes, you just have to yell and scream at people to get them to do what they’re supposed to; that simple things are best

8. My sister, April, who taught me that one has to work hard in order to truly enjoy oneself; and who has never forgotten her family

9. My friend, Quentin:  decency without guile

10. My friend, Chris:  growth is inevitable, and good

11. John Sommerville, who was my first mentor in history; he first evoked in me a wonder of the past, and a love for it, for which I shall ever be grateful.  What is more, he was the first to fill me with an inkling that religion in general, and the Christian faith in particular, was not a contemptible, dead, past phenomena, but a living part of human experience, and so started me on the road to my conversion. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Florida, I recall his lectures filling me with wonder–how could someone so learned take religion so seriously? It taught me there was something beautiful about the Christian faith that had been lost, and so I began, almost unbeknownst to myself, a search for it, in his classes on the history of England. Had I not met this man, I would not have come to call upon God in prayer, and would be, as I was then, without hope in the world.

12. Arthur Andersen:  who was both the immediate answer to my prayers and the immediate instrument by which God called me to himself, that I might acknowledge and worship Him.  May God grant him peace, now and forever, on earth as it is in heaven.

13. My uncle Lee, who beside being there for all in my immediate family during all the trials that have beset us, was the first person to introduce my and brother and I to the joy of dirty jokes.

14. Ryan Coiner, who was the first roommate I had ever had; he taught me to learn, oh so slowly, to come out of my shell and try to connect with my fellow man, and showed me how it could be a means of connecting with God–perhaps the best means.

15.  Jeremy Mirabile, who was my sponsor when I came into the Catholic Church, and the memory of whom fills my heart with warmth even now, so great was the light of faith that showed forth in him.

16. My friend and erstwhile business partner, Ryan McCarty, who taught me that not all boldness amounted to arrogance, and who made me come out of myself by attempting things I had been too cowardly, or simply too passive to have ever attempted on my own.  It was he who first moved me to think I could do great things, and who helped begin to realize how much I still need to grow in order to attain them.

17.  Ryan Fagan, who has been an intellectual confessor, boon companion, and a lover of life who has taught me so many things about the importance of food, of friendship, and who has been at my side as we have fought the great beast that is graduate school, all the while helping protect each other from the perils and pitfalls of the modern academy. We have borne each other up in our trials, and comforted each other when things seemed bleak, as friends and men should do. His wonder and love of ideas is the kind of passion a man should have, and his example of gentlemanly hospitality, are a consolation in what can sometimes be a lonely vocation.



Alypius Minor

~ by Alypius on August 8, 2013.

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