Why should any of these things that happen externally, so much distract thee?
– The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Book 2.4
As I read & re read book 2 of the meditations, I come across a common theme of seeking inward, where I should not allow the outside world affect my control of my life. Initially, I considered this as simply the pursuit of self awareness and denying others the ability to control how I feel. But it goes deeper than that. The journey of the stoic is living life that conforms to the natural order, that of reason and logic.
Does it conform to nature that I would spend 4 hours a day entertaining myself on television programs, not learning just being entertained? The last part of book 1 got me thinking about the value of my time, how I spend each second, and how much I waste not becoming. And with book 2, the theme continues.
Book 2.1 Remember how long thou hast already put off these things, and how often a certain day and hour as it were, having been set unto thee by the gods, thou hast neglected it.
The entire second book deals with the theme of using time, living life, and dealing with consequences. And today, as I look at the state of my morning, I just happen to wonder what am I doing with my life?
I claim to pursue an ideal self, but as I sat watching episode after episode of the Simpsons, I realize how much I have been neglecting. By wasting 20 minutes in entertaining myself, I lose much more than just time, but the opportunity to find opportunity. I could be learning Finnish better, I could be getting some work done, I could be learning.
And I realize that this may seem that I condemn entertainment, I don’t. But I return to another stoic tenet: To not be fondly addicted to anything. And I know I am addicted, because I don’t have the freedom to abstain, to say no; in other words I have no control over myself, which is not stoic.
So I’m fixing that today.
Starting today, I am no longer going to watch YouTube or Stream Videos on a daily basis. I will still watch my weekly shows, like Gotham or Elementary, but I will not allow myself to be bored and waste precious hours binge watching.
Boredom is the enemy here, and I don’t get to be bored. Each vacant moment will be dedicated to learning, and my entertainment comes only when I deserve it, when I have spent my time wisely and accomplished something significant.
I am a stoic, and I am in control of my life.