The ancients may have lived in different times, but they still experienced the wide array of emotions that we as humans do today. Their wisdom lives on through writing, and various artifacts found deep within the layers of the Earth.
As I peel back the layers of my experience, I find relics of my own old beliefs, shedding what doesn’t serve me, keeping what helps me put my best foot forward — especially when I’m halfway across the world:
“The greatest wealth is to live content with little.”
Most remember Plato because of his association with platonic love, but he believed that the human soul held spirit, reason, and appetite. Plato diverged from Socrates when it came to the believe that desire, in the spirited and appetitive parts of the soul, had nothing to do with your beliefs about what’s bad or good, that desires are independent.
Everyone has different desires and motivations for what they do in life or what they think. What is behind the craving Americans have for wealth and material possessions? I do my best to live a minimalist lifestyle, especially given my exposure to the world as a solo traveler — you don’t need much to live life fully, but you do need love and friendship.
“The moon has set
And the Pleiades.
I lie in bed alone.”
As much as I always craved to travel, I was a chicken, and when I come home to family for the holidays, sometimes that chicken comes out again. I want to roost and remain connected with my loved ones. Sometimes, when life gets me down, I want to stay down, preferably wrapped in a blanket burrito.
When I’m traveling, it can get lonely. Life gets lonely in general, but we must remember we’re never alone. Sappho helps me there. The moon passes on, as do the stars, but being alone isn’t a bad thing. It’s a time for reflection and solitude.
“Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.”
Yes, even in Socrates’ day, people rushed and rushed like there’s no tomorrow. Now, add in how wired we are daily.
I carry my smartphone in my back pocket, and when I’m traveling, it helps to video chat with my family and friends back home. I’m also able to check out reviews of different locations and post about my experiences online.
I feel connected, but in that connectedness, I must remember to disconnect with technology, and do a mini social media fast to reconnect with myself. Unplugging for an afternoon helps to revitalize my mind, body and soul so much. I must let go of the need to rush through the day from task to task to truly enjoy the moment I’m living in.
“This, too, shall pass.”
– Persian Wise Men
There’s something about the commas in those four little words that reminds me to breathe. The quote has roots in a legend in which a Persian ruler asked his sages to come up with one quote that’d apply to any situation. They did a great job because people around the world have used these four words for centuries to center.
Time flows, but everything is constantly changing. “This, too, shall pass,” reassures me that everything will be okay and that challenging or painful situations are only temporary. It helps me get into the mindset to move through the situation because there is another side to reach, whether that’s a side of a mountain or the side of the death of a loved one.
Ancient wisdom and philosophies carry nuggets of wisdom that have survived centuries because they hold universal truth, revealing the power of words to motivate, heal and transform. These four quotes remind me to be happy with my experiences, the people I love and myself. When challenges arise, I face them reflection, gratitude, presence and a clear head.
Whether I’m feeling nervous about a trail with a steep drop or prefer to stay stuck in bed, these quotes get me through tough situations daily. I continue to stand by their wisdom and look forward to witnessing how far they will carry my feet in the future.