A night spent brooding; comfort from Marcus Aurelius

Over the weekend, I dug trenches and drove posts. I think I broke my hand, but the pain from that was minor compared to total-body soreness and severe tingling in both hands. Saturday night, I couldn’t turn onto my side because of leg cramps, so after two hours of lying awake, I drank wine until I was anesthetized enough to sleep. Five hours later, the alcohol wore off.

I lay in the darkness brooding over the news of the week—the contempt that President Putin showed Condoleezza Rice, the statement by General Sanchez that the Iraq war was doomed from the outset, the announcement by the official in charge of stamping out Iraqi corruption that the whole Iraqi government is corrupt. Despite all this, the Bush administration retains its habitual optimism. I don’t just fear for the long-term, I worry about whether we can survive another year of George Bush.

How would we feel if Putin started putting missiles on our doorstep? Come to think of it, we already know because we damn near went to war when Khrushchev did it. Yes, much of the world hates us, and, yes, we give them reason. We ARE the greatest threat to world peace.

I concluded that I was too screwed-up physically to allow myself to sink deeper emotionally, so I read from a book about medieval history, a subject that has fascinated me for years. Then I read from The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Then I went back to brooding about all that money and all those lives we have wasted in the Middle East, and I felt so ashamed to be an American that I wanted to apologize to the world.

Sunday, Peggy and I biked in the mountains, exacerbating my hand numbness. I am now waiting for a call from a massage therapist. I don’t go to massage therapists because of the cost, but today I might make an exception.
Some miscellaneous thoughts from Marcus Aurelius that add a cheerier light to my ruminations…

Let not thy thoughts at once embrace all the various troubles which thou mayest expect to befall thee: but on every occasion ask thyself, “What is there in this which is intolerable and past bearing?” For thou wilt be ashamed to confess.

A scowling look is altogether unnatural; when it is often assumed, the result is that all comeliness dies away, and at last is so completely extinguished that it cannot be again lighted up at all.

Why art thou disturbed? What is there new in this? What unsettles thee? Is it the form of the thing? Look at it. Or is it the matter? Look at it. But besides these there is nothing.

…pain is neither intolerable nor everlasting, if thou bearest in mind that it has its limits, and if thou addest nothing to it in imagination.

Neither the future nor the past pains thee, but only the present. But this is reduced to a very little, if thou only circumscribest it, and chidest thy mind.

When thou art offended with any man’s shameless conduct, immediately ask thyself, “Is it possible, then, that shameless men should not be in the world?” It is not possible. Do not, then, require what is impossible.

It is a ridiculous thing for a man not to fly from his own badness, which is indeed possible, but to fly from other men’s badness, which is impossible.

Wipe out the imagination. Stop the pulling of the strings. Confine thyself to the present.

Consider thyself to be dead, and to have completed thy life up to the present time; and live according to nature the remainder which is allowed thee.

Love that only which happens to thee and is spun with the thread of thy destiny.

Art thou wearied of enduring the wicked, and this too when thou art one of them?

Live as on a mountain…. Look round at the courses of the stars, as if thou wert going along with them; and constantly consider the changes of the elements into one another; for such thoughts purge away the filth of the terrene life.

Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig.

Death hangs over thee. While thou livest, while it is in thy power, be good.