I’d like you to know about a prize-winning poem that inspires all of us to “make ourselves good.” In short, it inspires us to make ourselves into the kind of people we strive to be—every single day, for as long as we can.
First, the poem:
Make Yourself Good
By Meredith Alexander Kunz
“Do not act as if you had ten thousand years to live.”
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4:17
Remember that this moment
Is all you have:
Each flying second
Your personal eternity
To make with it
What you can
On this earth.
Each flash of consciousness
Your own, your true possession,
The source of your power
To choose, and choose well,
In this temporary existence.
Focus on this alone and stay true.
That’s what you need to remember
To concentrate on what must be done.
God or atoms? No difference.
Each of us must make our own way.
And that inner daimon—
Inside you, inside us all,
Knows the path to virtue
And the good.
When we listen,
We find happiness.
Some days, some years even,
We will be down and out,
Dispossessed, beaten up
By the whims of the world,
Liable to gnash our teeth,
Fill our brains with worry,
Fear, desire, resentment.
But still: We hold the keys to mastery
Of all that really matters.
It’s a lesson for the ages:
“While you have life in you,
While you can,
Make yourself good.”
And if you’re veering off course into
Love of status, money, looks, things—
If you’re consumed
Of what lies ahead,
And dread of what
And recall the philosopher-king
to rule them all.
He’ll set you right.
And you’ll start the next day
Ready for the fight.
Now for some background:
The poet, Meredith Alexander Kunz, is a writer and editor who has worked in journalism, higher education, and the technology industry. Her writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines including Newsweek, The San Francisco Daily Journal, The Stanford Report, and The Industry Standard.
In 2013, she published Words That Carry Us, a collection of her poems.
A mother of two daughters, she created The Stoic Mom blog (www.thestoicmom.com) in 2016 to explore the many ways that caregivers and kids can benefit from practicing modern Stoic life philosophy. You can follow her blog on Substack at https://thestoicmom.substack.com.
Meredith is also a contributing editor for The STOIC magazine and has shared her writing, talks, and interviews on the Stoicism Today blog, podcasts, NPR-affiliate radio, and conferences.
Meredith submitted her poem “Make Yourself Good” to the Odes to Marcus Aurelius international competition held by Modern Stoicism and The Aurelius Foundation to celebrate the Stoic emperor’s 1900th birthday.
The poem won second place in this international competition.
Her goal: To get to the heart of Marcus’ Meditations, and what she hopes to keep in mind each and every day.
Her own audio recording of the poem is online on You Tube. You can click on this YouTube video to hear her read her poem: https://youtu.be/oLyBZLKyIa0
Beautiful. To read at this time for me personally is a blessing. Such a wise and talented poet. ❤️💕
What a powerful, inspirational poem! The apple didn’t fall far from the tree! ❤️
Wonderful poem! Nobody has come up with a more meaningful philosophy than Stoicism and it’s been a long time. And a mother’s pride is consistent with it and completely justified in the case.
You should also be proud of how well you have lived your life in terms of the poems values. Chip