Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

The Marcus Aurelius Meme

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One of the tacit themes of Balthasar’s Gift is that everyone we meet, whether we like them or not, has something to teach us. It’s an adage I strongly believe in and try to remember, though not always with success. In novels, we like to see protagonists learning and achieving something with that knowledge – it’s called character arc, and if it doesn’t happen, we feel that characters are flat, wooden or too self-satisfied.

Litlove’s Marcus Aurelius Meme made me think of this, and so I am shamelessly plundering her ideas bank on this Tuesday morning to give you Gifts I Have Received from Other People:

From my mother, the Gift of Relentless Optimism: Her glass is not just half-full, it is overflowing. She believes in a benevolent and provident universe, and although she doesn’t have much in the way of material things, she leads a life that is surprisingly full of good luck and serendipity and Things Landing in her Lap. It’s been the experience of a lifetime being the child of a person who lives like this – guileless and believing in the good.

From my father, the Gift of Willingness to see the Funny Side. He is one of the funniest people I know and in another world, would have been a stand-up comedian instead of a lawyer. I love his take on the world and, when I remember to see the humour in a situation instead of freaking out and railing at unfairness (which he is also known to do – call it the Gift I’d Prefer Not to Mention), problems do diminish.

From my children, the Gift of Living in the Moment. There’s nothing like a baby to make the best-laid plans transmute into a spaghetti of terrible chaos. Though I have, and often still do, fight to plan ahead and organize, the moments when I allow myself to to sniff a child’s head, feel their warm limbs wrap around mine and melt into the joy of right now, this very second, are the best in the world.

From my husband, the Gift of the Oblique View. He has never been one to follow the pack, even when I first met him as a 17-year-old teenager. He holds the surprise factor of having viewpoints, ideas and ways to explain the world that knock me off my perch. My office (what my bedroom is known as during daylight hours) is next to his and I get a kick listening to him explain software to his clients on the phone. When a sentence starts ‘It’s like broccoli …’  I lose track of my protagonist’s problems and tune into the vagaries of global human resources management, because I have to know why software is like broccoli.

From my friends, I receive the Gift of Being Vastly Entertained. I love people to be amusing, witty, intelligent, provocative, a bit off-the-wall without injuring others and I have a treasure trove of people who do all of the above.

What gifts have you received from others?

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

5 thoughts on “The Marcus Aurelius Meme

  1. Finally a meme that you can sink your teeth into. Love your post. Need to find a quiet spot in this Christmas rush and think on this…

  2. My husband died when I was in my forties. His gifts – to find joy in the smallest things, to treasure those I love, and – when my back was truly to the wall – to find resources I never knew I had.

  3. So true – the gifts we receive from others in the form of truths/values/lessons are so much more important than any material item. Thank you for this. Very apt in my life right now.

  4. What beautiful answers, Charlotte! Thank you so much for doing the meme and doing it so splendidly.

  5. Oh, this is such a lovely post.❤ I enjoyed every thoughtful word.
    You are blessed to have such wonderful parents.
    I could not write in the same room with my husband working and talking on the phone, BUT, I love that you can (and do), and that he's so able to see things in his own interesting way. (he's a natural at unique metaphors) I also love that you've known his since he was 17.🙂

    Happy Holidays, Charlotte!

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