#850 Aurelius on Death

And Appreciating the “Uncovenanted Surplus” That Is Life

In our last +1, we reflected on the idea that little (and big) oopses provide us with opportunities to appreciate that we’re still alive as we practice gratitude that something much worse didn’t happen.

“At least THAT didn’t happen!”

For me, when I broke my arm, I was grateful I didn’t break my neck. When I tripped and nearly fell the other day, I was grateful I had an abdominal strain and not a trip back to the ER for my arm.

Whenever I think of this re-framing exercise, I think of a dear friend of mine we lost in a tragic speed-flying accident. One of the most beautiful, inspiring, energized people I’ve ever met. Went out for a flight off a mountain he’d jumped off countless times. Wings didn’t open the way they should have. BAM. Gone.

I have tears in my eyes as I type that.

I often think how grateful he would be if he had just broken an arm or even his neck.

Then I alchemize that pain into a virtual fist-bump and hug for his daimon and re-commit to savoring this one precious life of ours.

All of which makes me think of our Stoic philosopher friends. For multiple reasons.

Today we’ll chat about their thoughts on death.

We actually already talked about one of their practices in our +1 on Rehearsing Your Death.

In that one, as you may recall, Seneca tells us: “Rehearse death. To say this is to tell a person to rehearse his freedom. A person who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.

Today we’ll let Marcus Aurelius add his perspective.

Here’s how he puts it: “Were you to live three thousand years, or even thirty thousand, remember that the sole life which a man can lose is that which he is living at the moment; and furthermore, that he can have no other life except the one he loses… This means that the longest life and the shortest amount to the same thing. For the passing minute is every man’s equal possession, but what has once gone by is not ours.

He also tells us: “Take it that you have died today, and your life’s story is ended; and henceforward regard what future time may be given you as an uncovenanted surplus, and live it out in harmony with nature.

That’s one way to think about it, eh?

And that’s Today’s +1.

If you feel so inspired, let’s actually do the exercise.

Imagine this: You just died.


Bam! You’re gone.

😕 😕 😕


You got the good fortune to come back starting…

… Now!


Now, let’s see if we can live with a fresh appreciation that every (!) moment (!) is a gift.

Here’s to appreciating the “uncovenanted surplus” of moments.


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