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You can hold your breath until you turn blue…


“You can hold your breath until you turn blue, but they’ll still go on doing it.”

Aurelius, M. (2003) Meditations.

Book Eight, Number Four. Page 102.

 Although I’ve yet to finish this astounding book, this one sentence I found just flipping through the pages hasn’t left my mind. This statement is the very reason I decided to read further into this book.  Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is said to be ‘one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection every written.’

I came across this novel through curiosity while helping a friend pack their home; it was found tucked behind a bunch of old receipts and empty video game boxes. The name, Meditations, is what initially sparked my interest. It’s easy to tell how much a book has been admired on account of how stiff or loose it may be. When I found this book, it was flimsy as a single piece of paper with corners bent and torn. My favorite books have always been those passed down and loved by others before me, so I knew I had to read this novel.

I’ve noticed there are different versions of this book, I have my hands on “A New Translation, with an Introduction, by Gregory Hays. After this introduction, the majority of this book consists of books 1-12 of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. The first time I opened the book, my eyes became locked on one quote.

“You can hold your breath until you turn blue, but they’ll still go on doing it.”

This was a very significant observation for me as my interpretation of this quote goes hand in hand with issues I deal with in my life. I’m sure anyone who reads any one of these meditations will relate it to their own life, as it should be.

My understanding coordinates with my inability to properly speak my mind and feelings. It’s easy for me to complain and groan about things I don’t like about life; but when it comes to telling people how I feel and things I wish were different, it tends to come out in more of a puzzle than a statement. This isn’t because I don’t know how to speak my mind, rather I worry of the response. So, most of the time I lock it in a box in hopes that somehow my silence will cause a realization for the problem, which is absolutely the wrong idea.

The greatest thing about this is I didn’t even realize that I was doing this until I pondered this quote. That’s why I think these meditations are so significant; they open your eyes when you’ve become blind. In my opinion, there’s no greater read than that.

I came across another interpretation on

Sanity Dose- Meditations Interpretation

Last year, a writer known as Kumar took apart not only this particular quote but many others from this book. He explained them in his interpretation. His elucidation interested me most of all my research, as I never came to this conclusion to myself until reading his post.

His understanding is about how pointless it is to change someone else. “It’s in the best interest of an individual to focus on, and correct his own course of action, instead of asking someone else to change their’s” (2016) Kumar.

I appreciated this interpretation, so many people today will try to change others because of something they don’t believe in themselves. I think it’s so wrong to change another person just because you don’t agree with it. So many in our society today claim to fight for adversity then turn around to complain and criticize what they dont understand. I have high hopes that his explanation reaches many people, and I encourage you to read it yourself and pass it along.

I highly recommend this book to anyone whether you’re interested in the topic or not.

Here is a link to the book: Meditations

I’d also like to hear your opinion of this book and this particular quote, please comment or email.

More by Samantha Yates

About Samie

Samantha Yates is a writer who wants to make the world a better place one word at a time. This young, ambitious writer is determined to enlighten the world with her writings for people who are unable to see the world for what it should be, and not what society tells us it needs to be. So many people in the world are clueless to the world around them, blinded by the glamor of money that they completely forget to smell the roses. Samantha’s mission is to bring back life to the world we live in by enlightening her readers through written word.

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