Don’t behave as if you are destined to live forever. What’s fated hangs over you. As long as you live and while you can, become good now.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4.17
According to Cicero, the king’s ire was made manifest after a courtier named Damocles showered him with empty compliments and stupidly remarked how blissful a king’s life must be. To prove the ignorance of Damocles, the king arranged to switch places with the courtier so he could experience what it was like to be a king, but suspended over the servant-surrounded golden couch, above the tables laden with riches and perfumes and ointments, hung a razor-sharp sword, suspended only by a single strand of horse hair.
Once Damocles became aware of the sword hanging over his head, he suddenly lost the taste for riches and opulence, and asked to be excused from the couch, saying to the king that he no longer wished to be so fortunate.
The “sword of Damocles” is a constant reminder of danger, difficulty, and imminent death, and just because we weren’t some smart-ass courtier with a king to teach us lessons, we nonetheless have our own swords dangling over each of us. We don’t know when the sword of death is going to fall, but we can rest assured that it will.
When it falls, let it catch us doing good in the world now, not talking about the good we might be able to do in the future.
(See y’all tomorrow)