Marcus Aurelius and I

Marcus Aurelius—a man who ruled the Roman empire and who lived from 121 to 180 AD—and I have something in common.

He wrote:

Practice also the things you don’t expect to master. The left hand, clumsy at most things from inexperience, grasps the reins more confidently than the right because it’s used to them.

A lot of things have changed in 1,900 years, but horseback riding has not. I learned to ride holding the reins in my left hand and so did Marcus Aurelius.

holding the reins left-handed

When I read this meditation, I felt a profound personal connection to the Roman emperor. How amazing that the writings of Marcus Aurelius survived and how wonderful that his meditations have relevance to my own life.

There are only a few things I can do skillfully with my left hand, and all of them required deliberate practice. In 2011, as an exercise to keep my brain active, I started brushing my teeth with my left hand. That was terribly awkward for long while. After two years of practice, I am considerably more able, but by no means graceful at brushing my teeth left handed.

Try the advice of Marcus Aurelius—practice something you don’t expect to master.

Source: Meditation XII.6, The Emperor’s Handbook: A New Translation of the Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, translated by C. Scot Hicks and David V. Hicks, 2002.

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