You must build up your life action by action, and be content if each one achieves its goal as far as possible – and no one can keep you from this. But there will be some external obstacles! Perhaps, but no obstacle to acting with justice, self-control, and wisdom. But what if some other of my area of my action is thwarted? Well, gladly accept the obstacle for what it is and shift your attention to what is given, and another action will immediately take its place, one that better fits the life you are building. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.32
[Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, The Daily Stoic, New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2016, June 8]
For the past two weeks, I’ve been taking different exits off the highway to get to work. Most all of them lead to another road I’m already familiar with, but coming in at different places by unfamiliar roads. Yesterday’s exit brought me to an accident scene. Flashing lights, several rescue vehicles, and a lot of orange cones diverted me onto an unfamiliar road going in the wrong direction. My first instinct was to turn around and get back on the highway, but that would put me at the accident scene again – a hindrance to the people working at the scene and likely a several minute wait to get through. Instead, I drove forward. In less than five minutes, I was back on a familiar road. I didn’t get to take the unfamiliar road I wanted to take, but I did end up finding a new route to work – one I may not have found without a forced detour.
It’s easy to forget that there are many ways to get where I need to go, and that my preferred way is not the only and may not be the best one. And what is true on the road is often true in life.
[This is one in a series of writings. For more information, click Daily Meds above.]