In 1976, an 18-year-old was involved in a car accident. He got into a rear-end collision with a truck that completely wrecked his own car. Surprisingly, the young man got out of the accident without injuries.
He only had a sore knee, which he thought was from the collision. But the pain didn’t go away. He was an active basketball player in school and assumed the pain was caused by too much stress.
But after the basketball season ended, the pain was still there, and he decided to visit a doctor. Four months after his accident, he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, a type of bone cancer that often starts in the knee and spreads quickly. The doctors immediately realized that his best chance of survival was to amputate his leg, followed by chemotherapy.
On 9 March 1977, five days after his diagnosis, doctors amputated his right leg 15 cm above the knee.
Do you regularly feel overwhelmed and restless? Do those feelings arise without a clear reason?
It happens to all of us. During those moments, we feel bad. We make the wrong decisions. And we give in to our desires. All of us experience moments of weakness. Especially when we’re alone, not knowing what to do.
In those moments, we whip out our phones and consume some crap on the news or social media. And that makes things worse.
And all of a sudden, you start to question everything about life. Your mind is out of control. And you can’t think straight anymore. It’s a harmful state of mind.
But we’ve all experienced the opposite as well: Being in the zone—fully focused on a single task.
So why do we still experience those moments of overwhelm? It has something to do with someone who’s living in your head.
How does one live well? It’s a question that our fellow human beings have been pondering for centuries. Out of that simple question, many philosophies and religions have been born.
But no philosophy does a better job at explaining the ideas for living well in a practical way than Stoicism.
The Emperor-Philosopher Marcus Aurelius, once the most powerful man on earth, was also a practitioner of Stoicism. Marcus wrote a collection of thoughts, ideas, and rules for life in what was later published as Meditation.
He wrote the things in that book for his own use. He was practicing the philosophy of Stoicism. I read that in The Inner Citadel by Pierre Hadot, a book that analyzes Meditations. In that book, I also read that Marcus had 3 rules for life that are found throughout Meditations.