The Corner

The Worth of a Day

Kevin, I like Gregory Hays’s translation of the remark on death from Marcus Aurelius that you mention:

Suppose that a god announced that you were going to die tomorrow “or the day after.” Unless you were a complete coward you wouldn’t kick up a fuss about which day it was — what difference could it make? Now recognize that the difference between years from now and tomorrow is just as small.

What I like is “kick up a fuss.” That wording suggests acceptance and equanimity without implying that one wouldn’t have any preference as to the day. To a dying man — if he isn’t in terrible suffering, anyway — perhaps every new day, every new minute is a beautiful priceless thing: not because death frightens him, nor because he is unable to let go, but rather because the imminence of his leave-taking has reminded him to appreciate.

And we are all of us dying.

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