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05. Jul 2006

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We must take account not only of the fact that our life is being consumed each day and an ever smaller part of it is left, but also of this, that if one should live for longer, it is by no means clear that one's mind will remain unchanged and still be adequate for the understanding of affairs and for the theoretical reflection that strives after a knowledge of things divine and human. For if a person's mind begins to fail him, his respiration, digestion, power to deal with sense impressions, desire and appetite, and other functions of the kind will not give out; but his ability to make proper use of himself, to determine the components of his duty with accuracy, to analyse what is presented to his senses, to reach a clear judgement on when it is the right moment for him to depart from this life, and to attend to all such questions, in which well exercised powers of reasoning are especially required - all of these are extinguished at an earlier stage. We must act with all urgency, then, not only because we are drawing closer to death at every moment, but also because our power to understand things and pay close attention to them gives out before the end.
Marcus Aurelius (121-180)