“The age of Vespasian [9AD-79AD], for example. People doing exactly the same things: marrying, raising children, getting sick, dying, waging war, throwing parties, doing business, farming, flattering, boasting, distrusting, plotting, hoping others will die, complaining about their own lives, falling in love, putting way money, seeking high office and power.
And that life they led is nowhere to be found.
Or the age of Trajan [53AD-117AD]. The exact same things. And that life too – gone.
Survey the records of the other eras. And see how many others gave their all and soon died and decomposed into the elements that formed them.
But most of all, run through the list of those you knew yourself. Those who worked in vain, who failed to do what they should have – what they should have remained fixed on and found satisfaction in.
A key point to bear in mind: The value of attentiveness varies in proportion to its object. You’re better off not giving the small things more time than they deserve.” – Marcus Aurelius
The undue concern for trivial matters undoes more men than just about any other misapplication of his soul’s desire. In so doing he confuses the intricacies of the important matters in life with the endless array of small, but inconsequential distractions that can, if he is not careful, consume his attention.
Herein lies the double meaning to the phrase: “The devil is in the details.” The failure to handle the significant details with proper dignity and proportion will leave even well-meaning men joyless. Likewise, willfully or unintentionally narrowing your attention to that which is beside the point will invariably lead to a dead end in living.
Where a man places his attention, where he focused the force of his soul’s desire, does more to define him than just about any other activity he might undertake.