Here I am again sitting beside my solitary candle and gazing at its steady flame. I have just realised that that it is a over a year now since my first blog appeared. I can’t believe that, in the midst of my busy life, I have managed to write so many meditations in the last year. There are 27 so far. But then, times of reflection are important to a busy life or our busy-ness takes over us and we cease to be fully human. Our perspective can become narrower and our compassion for others can diminish because we are ‘too busy.’ I hope writing my blog has averted this in my own life over the last year! Something else I need to reflect upon. My thanks to those of you who have read all of them or most of them or just a few of them.
Co-incidentally, I have been preparing and recording an audio version of these meditations. So now, as they enter their second year, a selection of them will be appearing on YouTube. The trailer and first two are now available on YouTube as ‘Neilus Aurelius ASMR’ and, dear reader, you are now able to hear my voice as well as read my words, if you so wish. My sincere thanks to Henry Riley for setting up and posting the written blogs and to Jordan Trinder for setting up the audio one. Ex-students have their uses!
I have been rather unsure about the audio venture even though I have enjoyed choosing the selection and recording them. I have always been more of a vocal actor than a physical one so reading into a microphone has not been a problem, although I have had to adopt a quieter level and more intimate tone than when I am acting on stage or teaching a class. Yes it is an intimate experience. You are almost treating the microphone like a lover. There is a gentleness about it. Actors say that film acting is relaxing as it requires less effort than theatre and recording is the same. But you still have to concentrate and focus, you are still ‘on’. Who knows: in my retirement I may start a new career as a voice actor!
When I started these blogs, friends asked me whether I wanted to film them. I said no because I would either be standing in front of a camera trying not to read from a script or I would improvise them and blather on (which is similar to what my teaching career has been like!).
Besides it is best that, like Marcus Aurelius, my model for this blog, I set down my thoughts in writing as he did and through modern technology to present them to others, which he may not have intended at all. His own ‘Meditations’ were private and for himself, to remind himself of his own ideals. These ideals were taken from his reading of philosophy, tested by his own experience of life and the example of relatives and friends he admired. His meditations were then, a corrective of his own behaviour. He reminds
himself of his own ideals so that he can try to live by them. Therefore, they were, from a myriad of sources, an attempt to create his own philosophy of life.
When his ‘Meditations’ were published in the first ever printed version (in 1559) they were called ‘To Himself’. They were written by himself and for himself. They are a private document. So I wonder if he ever wanted them to be published at all. Or if he had modern technology at his disposal, if he would, like me, present his own meditations in his own blog, let alone make an audio or video version.
However, I would be fascinated to hear what his voice sounded like. I imagine a warm baritone voice and a firm measured tone. That is what I have tried to present on YouTube, although, my own voice is a tenor.
Emperors kept their distance from the populace. It is how they kept their power. Rare but well staged personal appearances kept the populace happy. Saturating the media with a constant presence would be anathema to them, let alone bolstering their own self image with continual tweets. But these are different times.
His own philosophy of life. How many of us have ever sat down to formulate our own philosophy of life? I wonder if many of our current political leaders have. Have we ever sat down on a beach somewhere with pen and paper and written down what we believe in and the ideals we hold most dear? I am reminded of when I was in the Sixth Form at my school, one of my friends was called Philip – I can’t remember his surname. He was, what we used to call a ‘pseud’, in other words someone rather pretentious as only sixth formers can be. He would call trousers ‘strides’ and underwear ‘understrides’, I remember.
But I also remember in one of our discussions in the pub, he told our group that he was going to make a list of what he believed in: his articles of faith, if you like, or his philosophy of life. And he did and he read them out to us on another occasion.
Perhaps this will be my aim for this second year of my blogs: to create a philosophy of life. Or perhaps I am already doing so
You can now watch the first meditation on YouTube HERE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGJwqviWUTk
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