“Consider for example, and thou wilt find that almost all of the transactions in the time of Vespasian differed little from those of the present day. Thou there findest marrying and giving in marriage, educating children, sickness, death, war, joyous holidays, traffic, agriculture, flatterers, insolent pride, suspicions, laying of plots, longing for the death of others, newsmongers, lovers, misers, men canvassing for the consulship and for the kingdom;—yet all these passed away, and are nowhere.” – Marcus Aurrelius
I’ve spent a good deal of my life operating under the sun, sometimes even exclusively. Can you relate? The pursuit of things that you think have never been pursued before. When I was thirty-five I believed I ruled the world. I thought I was breaking new ground. The truth was others had been there before me, and there were younger men who were waiting to take my place. It wasn’t until I made my daily focus about living over the sun that true living began. I don’t consider what happened before to be a waste. It was learning and it didn’t happen overnight.
The quote from Marcus Aurellius was written somewhere around 170 AD. Interestingly, many of us are still trying to prove him wrong. See Sheryl Sandberg, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson, Will Smith, and the list goes on. My post is not an indictment of those people or their human achievement. My post is really about achievement, but with a different motivation. It’s the motivation of living over the sun.
I have been greatly influenced by Solomon and the biblical accounts of his life. Most specifically, the accounts found in the Book of Ecclesiastes. You can read his journal there for yourself. On some quiet nights I am haunted by his words found there. Solomon had more and tried more than most men ever will, including the vaunted list above. Yet we (mankind) press on, and on. We’re a culture that believes in the exception. The arrogance that somehow sees itself above history. Solomon was right when he said:
“God has placed in the heart of men, eternity.”
That is what I’m trying to convey here; the idea of eternity, the idea of over the sun. Over the sun takes you to a place where what you do matters here and in eternity. Eternity is in heaven and it is on earth. Eternity will record my apology to my son today. It will go into his future and the future being recorded for my ears ahead. In short, what I do matters. Now, before we get too sentimental, eternity will also record all of my stressing over what I have no control over. Gulp. Fortunately, there is a cross powerful enough to deal with my good, my bad and my ugly.
The following are some reasons why you and I should operate over the sun, along with some reasons why we shouldn’t operate under it. Keep in mind this is about your thinking and your actions. It’s worth considering, even if my words make me a madman in your book.
- Operating over the sun puts other people first. This is a sweet reality for mankind. I hear a beautiful melody in my ear and head as I write this. Putting people first always results in something that lasts forever.
- Operating under the sun is all about you. Your career, your money, who you can manipulate, who you can control, and all the other agendas a lifetime can hold.
- Operating over the sun is where we find sustainable happiness. The actions are those rooted in the simple and the beautiful. It’s a place of where you are surprised by what each day brings, and you don’t mind it, happy or sad.
- Operating under the sun is about deceit. The implication here is self-deceit. Under the sun we convince ourselves that one more drink, one more deal, or one more relationship will satisfy. And as Marcus and Solomon found, it won’t deliver the promised outcome.
- Operating over the sun is where we find the personhood of God.