Hello, and welcome to Walk the Pod, your daily walking show where I take my podcast for a walk because I don’t have a dog. You take 10 minutes out of the day to walk in nature and pay attention to what’s directly in front of you.
My name is Rachel Wheeley, a human in the world trying to figure out how to be. I’m walking a cycle path in SW19, Wimbledon, in the UK as usual and it’s really grey and mis today.
Blankets of cloud in the sky blotting out the sun, as some kids in the Wimbledon Chase Primary School playing field emerge out of a hedge bearing large plastic bags and litter pickers, with which they are cleaning up their environment.
This is the fourth episode of Series 24, Walk the Pod, I’m very excited to be out on the bike track with you as usual. I’ve got Stoics on the Cycle Path for you today. Another reading from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. I’ve got, what I can see directly in front of me… all of your favourite features are here! Welcome to Walk the Pod.
The Walk the Pod manifesto
First, I thought I’d read you the Walk the Pod manifesto. This is something that I’ve been noodling with for several series now, but never actually committed to paper. I had a go at committing it to paper a while ago and then lost my nerve and thought ‘Who am I to tell people how to exist in the world?’ But in the end, James Benchseats on the Walk the Pod community message board said, ‘Oh no, I like that. Where’s it gone?’ So I put it back.
And I thought, at the beginning of a new series, close to the beginning of a new series, I should really read it, in order to say, if you’re a new listener to the pod, this is what we are about.
So here goes. A ceremonial reading of the Walk the Pod manifesto. This is essentially how I have chosen to exist. Having done lots of reading of various stoical and other philosophical texts and lots of psychotherapy and thinking about how to be in the world. This is where I’ve got to, so far.
What I can control is limited to how I act and respond, how I respond to things that happen to me, how I take action to meet my needs, or achieve my goals. To act with self control, and to respond healthily I need high self worth. Or if you like, self respect, or if you like, self esteem.
My self worth is based on how much I love and value myself, not how much value I provide for others, what I produce, or how much others love or value me.
I combine courage with a fierce willingness to refuse to accept shame.
I choose not to build a religion around my flaws, or failures.
I choose goals that work for me that I can find a path towards. Other people’s goals are their own.
I fully explore the potential joys of the person I am and the situation in which I am placed, rather than dreaming about the imagined joys of being somebody else, or being somebody in a situation in which I am not placed.
I choose to prioritise people and relationships that make me feel fulfilled rather than giving my energy towards resentment of outgrown relationships, or trying to impress people who have placed themselves out of my reach.
Now that I love and value myself, I can love and value others.
I abandon my glorious future in order to fully explore the joy of this imperfect day.
I will make time for fun today.
I pay attention to what my mind and body need.
Now, I should really have given those numbers. At the beginning of next series of Walk the Pod, I will read them with numbers, because it’s kind of all mashed together, isn’t it? Just read in a big long stream like that.
So… slightly messed that up. But if there’s one thing that I’ve decided over the course of 24 Series of Walk the Pod, it’s that if something isn’t quite right, I just do it differently next time. I’m not going to re record this bit with numbers. I’m simply going to leave it as it is, and next series when I read the manifesto, well, I’m going to put the numbers in then.
You have to wait a few weeks before you get your improvement on this podcast. That’s just how it works, as the Thameslink steams over the railway bridge. I can see a little black pup on a red lead, frolicking just beyond the railway bridge in the distance over there.
I hope you enjoyed the Walk the Pod manifesto. If you have any thoughts about that, if that made you angry, if that made you sad, if it has made you remember something? Please get in touch and let me know what it was. I’d be fascinated to know. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org – that’s my email address. You can go to @walkthepod on Instagram. And you can send me a message. Or, if you want to, you can go to walkthepod.com and press the button marked ‘Message’ and leave me 59 seconds of your beautiful voice.
Time for Stoics on the Cycle Path
Stoics on the Cycle Path
Today’s Stoics on the Cycle Path comes from Marcus Aurelius. His Meditations were the original Stoic philosophy on Walk the Pod. We used to read from Meditations a lot back in the day. And now that Stoics on the Cycle Path is a broader feature, featuring the works of Seneca and Epictetus and even more far flung Stoic philosophers, such as Joni Mitchell.
Marcus Aurelius remains a major pillar of Stoics on the Cycle Path. And this reading is very interesting, because Marcus Aurelius was not just a Roman philosopher, he was also Emperor just casually, as a side hustle. Emperor of the Roman Empire, as you do. It really annoys me when people are overachievers, like, you’re already the greatest philosopher who’s ever lived Marcus Aurelius, how we also casually emperor, mind you, there’s, um, there’s a certain sense to that if you are emperor of a vast, sprawling and enormously kind of, lively empire, such as the Roman Empire, I mean, presumably you have to be, you have to be of sound mind, you have to be a very good mental health. You have to have a good mindset and a good outlook on the world. Because otherwise, you will simply be swamped by all of the problems that there are in your universe, some of which you are directly responsible for.
So I think Marcus Aurelius was was writing these Meditations to himself in large part in order to help him survive the job of being emperor of the Roman Empire. So that’s why these little mottos and things that he writes down, are so powerful because they are what helped him through one of the toughest jobs in recorded history.
This comes from book six, just like the one I read to you a couple of episodes ago. And this This is Marcus reminding himself not to get too tied up in the ego of being emperor.
This is book six, chapter 30.
Stoics on the Cycle Path: Meditations Book 6, chapter 30
“Take care not to be Caesarified or died in purple. It happens. So keep yourself simple, good, pure, serious, unpretentious, a friend of justice, God fearing, kind, full of affection, strong for your proper work. Strive hard to remain the same man that philosophy wished to make you. Revere the Gods. Look after men. Life is short. The one harvest of existence on Earth is a godly habit of mind and social action.
Always as a pupil of Antoninus: his energy, for all that was done according to reason, his constant, equitability, his piety, his serene expression, his gentleness, his lack of conceit, his drive to take a firm grasp of affairs. How he would never put anything at all aside without first looking closely into it, and understanding it clearly; how he would tolerate those who unfairly blamed him without returning the blame; how he was never rushed in anything. He would not listen to malicious gossip; he was an accurate judge of men’s character and actions; slow to criticise, immune to rumour and suspicion, devoid of pretence how he was content with a little by way of house, bed, dress, food, servants; his love of work, and his stamina.
He was a man to stay at the same task until evening, not even needing to relieve himself except at his usual hour, such was his frugal diet. Constant and fair in his friendships; tolerant of frank opposition to his own views, and delighted to be shown a better way; god-fearing, but not superstitious.
So may your own last hour find you with a conscience as clear as his.”
So Marcus Aurelius there, reminding himself not to get too full of himself as emperor and to and to follow the lead of Antoninus, who was presumably one of his teachers or mentors, I had to look at the beginning of the book to find out exactly who Antoninus was.
Marcus’s last name, he’s Marcus Aurelius, Antoninus, and Antoninus, I think, was his adoptive father. Now, I don’t know huge amount about this. So apologies, Poddies, for not being a font of all knowledge. But I think he’s talking about his adoptive father when he lists all of the good qualities of that man.
And he’s trying to remind themselves to be more like that person. And particularly, he writes in other places, in Meditations about how happy he is to be proved wrong by somebody and how open he is to have other points of view expressed to him.
I hope you enjoyed that edition of Stoics on the Cycle Path. Thank you very much indeed for walking with me today. I feel hugely lucky to have you with me on my walks on the cycle path. These are enormously restorative strolls up and down that I have every day talking to you, Poddies.
So thank you for being with me. Welcome to Hannah, my sister who has just joined the Walk the Pod walking club, and will be making an appearance on the Walk the Pod community message board soon, I expect. If you would like to join you can do so by going to rachelwheeleyisfunny.com.
Someone was asking me, what is a Discord server? And it occurred to me that I should really explain. The Walk the Pod walking club is hosted on something called a Discord server. What is a Discord server? Well, it’s like, it’s like a sort of a forum. It’s like a sort of social media platform, which is just for Walk the Pod members. It’s for walkers all over the world.
So it has channels on it where you can post various messages. It’s like a message board. But just for Walk the Pod. So if you want to find a little space on the internet to post pictures of your favourite clouds, or walking reports or photographs from your daily walks, and chat to people for whom walking is a daily activity that they enjoy. It’s the absolute perfect place to be.
rachelwheeleyisfunny.com if you want to explore that option for your life. One of the books I enjoyed last year was James Clear’s Atomic Habits. And one of the things he says in that book is, if you want to make something a habit, the best way to do that is to immerse yourself with a bunch of people for whom that habit is a daily practice that they that they incorporate into their lives, and for whom that that particular thing is completely normal part of everyday life. So, if daily walking is something you would like to be doing, come and get involved, it will help you to establish it.
And I can also recommend having something like a dog to make it a non negotiable thing that you have to do. I don’t have a dog so I I record this podcast every day and if I don’t record the podcast, then I have a bunch of people on the Walk the Pod community message boards say ‘Oh, where’s the episode today, Rach?’ So it’s not. It’s not like I have an option anymore.
You don’t have to go to quite such extreme measures as that, but the Walk the Pod walking club is a fun place to hang out.
Take care of your beautiful mind.
And I will be back with episode five, our first Friday episode of Series 24 tomorrow.
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