is to my regret, as a student of classics, that I have taken so long to read the meditations of the Roman Emperor and philosopher, Marcus Aurelius. Partly because they are a rather well-known and interesting piece of classical literature that I somehow managed miss while at university, but mainly because I would have found them useful insights as I started to navigate my way through the modern day world of work.
The job seemed simple enough. The wall in the front garden had fallen down and needed to be rebuilt. Being a modern man, this felt like an opportunity to put a personal mantra to the test: that in the age of the internet there is nothing a chap or chapess cannot accomplish if he puts in a spot of effective googling and a little bit of effort. I had resolved numerous office troubles this way, and now, I thought, I had the opportunity to apply my tactic to some home maintenance. I’m working from home these days anyways, so I have the time. Away with the cost of getting a professional, I would do it myself.
The ancients knew that a man’s forebears play an important part in his identity. As ever, I cannot help but think that Romans were onto something here, something from which we in our hyper-individualised age of self-actualisation could do well to learn. For, not withstanding the popularity of sites such as Ancestry and Findmypast, we tend not give our forebears quite the same role in our lives today. But we should.
I know. I know. There is nothing that rams home the loss of your youth more brutally than the sight of your ever-balder scalp in the morning mirror. It is the daily reminder – as if you needed one – that you are not the man that once you were, your diminishing crop of hair acting as a metaphor for vitality that is ebbing away and opportunities that are long past and lost forever