Turn it inside out and see what it is like - what it becomes like when old, sick, or prostituting itself. How short-lived the praiser and praised, the one who remembers and the remembered. Remembered in some corner of these parts, and even there not in the same way by all, or even by one. And the whole earth is but a mere speck.”
(Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.21)
“Turning it inside out” is Marcus’ way of saying know and understand all there is to know about something, without bias.
Let’s take something very personal to me: my wife. Rev. Bee is soft, and beautiful, and warm, and kind, generous, intelligent, and ultimately loving. Most of the time those words are the ones I use to relate to and describe her, within my own internal dialogue, as well as outwardly to others. But sometimes I practice thinking of her without the biases of love, desire, or commitment. Sometimes I image her infirmed, or as the victim of age and gravity, or dementia, all the bits about her that made her special, gone. Sometimes I contemplate my wife through the simple lenses of biology and entropy, nothing personal. Sometimes I turn it the other way inside out and imagine her as “more”, doubling her already-blinding brilliance.
The stoic idea behind all this “premeditatio malorum” is this: by consciously examining situations from the inside out, we can be less daunted by them, and thus, less likely to be swayed by them.
Interesting thoughts on the eve of my 48th birthday.
(See y’all tomorrow… after a couple morning dates with Rev. Bee and our youngest kiddo!)