“I will keep constant watch over myself and-most usefully-will put each day up for review. For this is what makes us evil-that none of us looks back upon our own lives. we reflect upon only that which we are about to do. And yet our plans for the future descend from the past.” – Seneca, Moral Letters, 83.2
When I read forward to “The Day in Review” I knew I had to use it more as a “Three Days in Review”, focused on America’s peaceful transition of power from Obama to Trump. It stood out as the meditation of closure. From choice of where you’re going to reigniting thoughts, to morning ritual, and finally to review, these past meditations are ones I wish the whole country had read. How did we, as a country, treat each other?
Yesterday’s meditation disclosed a seed of today’s. Epictetus’ list can be your way to start the day or your way to end it. Today’s meditation takes it one step further by reminding us that our self is predicated on our ability to recall what we’ve done. Did I do something that improved me? Did I do something that needs improvement? If we’re not thinking about what we’ve done we cannot expect clarity of what contributed to our happiness, or sorrow.
In a nutshell, over the course of time, we are building a self. Consider building a self like building a house. A plan is created, and construction begins. Do they simply move forward, or do they continually refer back to the blueprints? Things can cause deviations from the plan, and if the blueprints are not consulted the house may never get built, or it will do so at grave risk. Our self is like building a house. We have a plan of who we want to be, but if we move through life without reflection we may find ourselves not progressing, or left with a person we don’t recognize.
What if we were all keeping a journal of the things we said to others throughout our day? Are we missing opportunities to be a better self? Soren Kierkegaard writes:
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
As I review how I handled the election season I see times in which I angered friends and possibly ruined friendships. Hopefully not the latter. Is it not evil for me to not consider how I acted and work to not be that person in the future? If someone refers to a Liberal as a “libtard” or a Conservative as “nazi”, is that really the best way to act as a person and a citizen?
Treat every day as an opportunity to be better. Start the day with that thought in mind. End every day with a review of your progress.