Welcome back to Mid-Week Meditations, Lifehacker‘s weekly dip into the pool of stoic wisdom, and a guide to using its waters to reflect on and improve your life.
Photo: Fraser Mummery
This week’s selection comes from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. Near the end of book 11, he goes over an interesting aspect of change:
Grapes unripe, ripened, raisined: All changes, not into non-existence, but into not-yet existence.
Here’s another version:
The unripe grape, the ripe bunch, the dried grape, all are changes, not into nothing, but into something which exists not yet.
What It Means
In his own way, Aurelius explains that a grape is not actually an object, it’s an event. It starts out unripe, then it ripens, and eventually it becomes a raisin. Even after that, it breaks down into molecules that will become something else. It never becomes non-existent, it merely is always in a state of “not-yet existence”. What we perceive as a grape is actually change itself.
The same thing can be said for you. Your life is an event, always going through change. Where you were once a child, you now gradually ripen, and one day you will be old and wrinkly. Think of yourself as always being in the process of changing “into something which exists not yet”.
What to Take From It
Change isn’t simply an important aspect of life – it’s life itself. Your mind and body are changing every second of every day. Once you’re conceived, you change to become a baby; after you’re born, you change to become a toddler; after becoming a child, you change to become a teenager; and so on. You’re always on your way to another version of yourself.
But what will it be? During this constant transformation you are presented with countless choices. Every move you make, every action you allow, every decision you land on during these transformations, is yours. These choices can be simple:
- Do I eat pizza or a salad?
- Do I exercise or sit on the couch?
- Do I wear this shirt or that one?
- Do I get up now or in 15 minutes?
Or these choices can be more complicated:
- Do I take a chance with my career?
- Do I move to a new city?
- Do I tell them I love them?
You see, while you cannot stop change, you can shape it. You are constantly changing – on a journey you have no choice but to take – and so is everyone and every thing around you. How will you navigate it all? Change is a gift, change is freedom.