Tuesday, November 14, 2017
The wisdom of Marcus Aurelius...
We hiked out to Suisnish, a tiny coastal community that was “cleared” in 1853 when people were displaced to make room for sheep. The ruins are haunting, the story very sad. Looking up to the majestic peaks of the Isle of Skye's Cuillin, as those villagers once did, it’s easy to drift into a reflective mood.
I was born in Scotland and there is a significant sense of “connection”…that’s where the mystery begins. Adopted as an infant, by loving and deeply caring parents, we moved to Canada when I was a wee lad. There were so many choices in those post-war days. My Dad was an engineer and there were new and exciting opportunities overseas. Clearly, it was a good move. Canada is a magnificent country, strong and free, expansive and beautiful, compassionate and peaceful…and famously polite.
These past years, I’ve wondered more and more…where did I come from? And why did I leave the “wondering” so late? At 21, with long and curly hair well below my shoulders and a thick red beard, I came home from university for a weekend. I remember my Dad quietly taking me aside, calling me by my Gaelic name, Donnchadh, and telling me that I was a “highlander”. But I was too busy being 21, too crazy in love, too full of the myriad and pressing issues of the world - and still trying to make in it a rock and roll band - to pay proper attention to what he was saying. Dumb. When I next thought to ask, I was much older, but it was too late. Dumber. My Dad was gone, and then so was my Mum.
Soon, I will turn 68…a little greyer, a little shorter, and a little wiser (maybe). I still wonder what my Dad tried to tell his impatient and distracted son, so many years ago. Knowing that none of us will live forever, why do we postpone asking those questions - the ones that really matter?
Why do we put off saying what we need to say to one another until “tomorrow”? If there is something important we need to share with a parent, a child, a partner, a spouse, a dear friend, or anyone else…then we must do it. Today.
In his “Meditations”, Stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, wrote “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”
In other words, don’t wait, don’t postpone, don’t procrastinate. Act. Now.