Why A Stoic Wakes Up Early

Ryan Holiday
7 min readDec 14, 2022

One morning in the middle of the second century AD, the most powerful man in the world was awakened by his orderly.

It could have been in his tent on the front lines of the war in Germania.

It could have been somewhere along his frequent and arduous travels across the empire — in Asia Minor or Syria, Egypt, Greece, or Austria.

But chances are it was at the palace in Rome.

It was early. So early.

The sun still hid. It was cool and dark and quiet.

Like any normal person, a deep part of Marcus did not want to wake up, instead wanting to “huddle under the blankets and stay warm,” he would say. It was nicer there. Easier there.

But then he caught himself. “Is this what I was created for?” he said to himself. To feel nice? To have it easy?

“I have to go to work — as a human being,” he said, hauling his feet up and onto the floor. “Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants, and the spiders and the bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can?” he said to himself but also to us. “And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?”



Ryan Holiday

Bestselling author of ‘Conspiracy,’ ‘Ego is the Enemy’ & ‘The Obstacle Is The Way’ http://amzn.to/24qKRWR