Just about every morning for the last five years I have read the daily meditation in The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. I blogged about a couple of the readings here (“You Don’t Have To Stay On Top Of Everything) and here (“On Clarity: Aliquo Respiciat”).
However, I decided to make a change for 2022 and start reading Robert Greene’s recently published The Daily Laws instead.
So this morning I brought my five-year journey with The Daily Stoic to a conclusion by reading the meditation for New Year’s Eve:
GET ACTIVE IN YOUR OWN RESCUE
“Stop wandering about! You aren’t likely to read your own notebooks, or ancient histories, or the anthologies you’ve collected to enjoy in your own age. Get busy with life’s purpose, toss aside empty hopes, get active in your own rescue – if you care for yourself at all – and do it while you can.” – MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 3.14
The purpose of all our reading and studying is to aid us in the pursuit of the good life (and death). At some point, we must put our books aside and take action. So that, as Seneca put it, the “words become works.” There is an old saying that a “scholar made is a soldier spoiled.” We want to be both scholars and soldiers – soldiers in the good fight.
That’s what’s next for you. Move forward, move onward. Another book isn’t the answer. The right choices and decisions are. Who knows how much time you have left, or what awaits us tomorrow?The Daily Stoic, December 31st, p. 387
Another Book Isn’t The Answer – But Even So..!
I had to chuckle at the comment, “Another book isn’t the answer.” I acknowledge that to be the case, but even so, I shall not relinquish my intention and desire to travel, by the grace of God, through another year with “another book” – Robert Greene’s Daily Laws – as my daily companion.
However, I take the point that keeping old notebooks and books we have collected is certainly not “the answer,” no matter how much wisdom those artifacts may contain. Indeed, this year I have shredded a stack of old notebooks and given away numerous of my old books, including books that go back to my university days and before. Just look at this photo of my shredded notebooks!
I blogged about this spate of “moderate minimalism” in an article titled Clearing Away The Physical & Virtual Garbage To Make Space For What Matters… over on my Hive blog.
A Pivot Towards Machiavelli
I will keep The Daily Stoic and dip into it from time to time, I am sure, but I am ready for a change of approach to my daily meditations, a pivot towards a more Machiavellian and outwardly oriented focus, for, as I see it, Machiavellianism and Stoicism are complimentary, not adversarial (with thanks to “BlackLabelLogic”).
That is why I will not miss my least favourite entry in the Daily Stoic this year, that of June 17th which puts the boot into Machiavelli apparently for advocating “a strategy of endless, exhausting offense” as opposed to Seneca’s strategy of “resilient, flexible defense.” The worst part, though, was the conflation of Machiavelli’s arresting “fortune is a woman” passage (“horrifying imagery”) with the “nasty lifestyle” – ghastly word! – of a “ruthless and endlessly ambitious ruler!”
Turning to Robert Greene’s Daily Laws, I thought I’d have a quick peep at his June 17th entry to see how it contrasted with that of the Daily Stoic… and would you believe it but it is as if Robert Greene had also read the Daily Stoic entry and issued a witty rebuke from Machiavelli himself!
The people are always impressed by the superficial appearance of things.
– NICCOLO MACHIAVELLIDaily Laws, June 17th, p. 215
And so, let us see out the old year and prepare to spend the new year with these 366 meditations on power, seduction, mastery, strategy and human nature by reading the Preface and the introduction to January (Your Life’s Task: Planting the Seeds for Mastery).
Happy New Year, everybody! Let us raise a glass to old Niccolo and to his American reincarnation, Robert Greene.