Of Humanness

When re-watching Gladiator (2000), I learn that according to Marcus Aurelius, the four chief virtues (of a man? emperor?) are wisdom, justice, fortitude and temperance.


Funny how Hollywood can make the average home-bodied American feel a certain way; that is, if they’re even thinking about what the dialogue in a movie is trying to convey. I gather it’s fitting to question myself, to ask if I’m possessed of such qualities, and I have to answer — I’m not even sure. I would have to look introspectively at myself and try to figure in which areas of my life any such qualities would pertain.


What is refreshing to read concerns the son of this man, Commodus, a man described by Wikipedians as an “extreme egotist with neurotic problems.” At least here we get the contrast, something to balance the self-reflective moment I’m experiencing.

Either way, I can’t help but to feel either diminished, or as if there is something I’m supposed to be doing. At this point, I have problems with chronic pain, so I have to wonder, what good does wisdom, justice, fortitude and temperance do me at this point; or have I been something of neurotic egoist all along? I know I’m neurotic, so that’s probably not helping in the virtue department.

To put a modern spin on the whole of the matter, one of my more or less enthralling memories involves an evening I spent with a friend on an “errand.” He wasn’t supposed to be driving, and he was certainly buzzed, and so around the locale we traversed on our errand until, at one point, we decided we needed some beer to take home for afterwards. My friend takes a flying left from the main street into Safeway, races through the parking lot at high velocity, and as he goes to pull into a spot, he plows headlong into the driver’s side door of the next car over. The car we hit sustained a massive gouge, and my friend floors it in reverse, fleeing the scene with casual, if unsettling reserve.

Not a lot of wisdom etc. going on in these moments, though I’m glad to say this event occurred over twenty years ago. What I’m trying to do, now, is to figure out how to integrate memories like these into the life of integrity I’m trying to live. It’s a difficult thing to do, and it seems, the more prone I am towards seeking a meaningful life, the harder that life becomes. Unfortunately for me, a memory like this is one of the lighter-hearted kind, which means I have to seek out ways to alleviate the inner pain, if such a thing can even occur. I know there are some who can never find peace.


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