First Post, Memento Mori, How Death Encourages Us To Live
Hello folks! I am filled with excitement as I write the first of many posts aimed at helping you, the reader, unlock your potential and live an awesome life. I’ve wanted to share my ideas, insights, and experiences with the world for a while now and I finally mustered up the courage to begin this journey. I must admit it’s a little terrifying to put myself and my ego out there and on display but I know I would deeply regret not taking this leap. “You gotta risk it to get the biscuit” Fired Up taught me (phenomenal movie by the way, I feel no shame).
Despite the word “death” in the post title, I’m feeling incredibly alive and optimistic today. I have death to thank for that. Allow me to elaborate. As misunderstood, unappreciated, unaccepted, and “different” we feel from others, there is a universal unifying element shared by every member of humanity; the inevitability of death. Despite this, death is viewed as something abstract, inconceivable, and terrifying. While I do not pretend to be free from the fear of death, I do believe we have a choice when it comes to acknowledging and accepting its inevitability. We can live in perpetual fear of something we have no control over, or choose to use it as a way to appreciate the gift of life and live with purpose.
Sir Ken Robinson, a world-expert in education reform, remarks that the chances of us even being born and all of the crazy events that had to take place to result in us existing (our great-great-great-great grandfather meeting our great-great-great-great grandmother in the street, etc.) are astronomically low. Statistically speaking, we shouldn’t even exist. But we do. And, as we all know, we only have a brief and limited amount of time on this earth to experience consciousness, love, joy, fear, and all the amazing sensations of life.
The ancient Romans and others throughout history used to display memento mori in their studies, at dinner parties, and during gatherings. Memento mori is the visual display of death-like items such as a skull, skeleton, casket, etc. to remind oneself of his or her mortality. This was not used as a means to terrify someone, but rather as a tool to remind one to live virtuously, to build and exhibit strong character, and to dissent the excessive acquisition of material goods. In other words, death was used as a tool to encourage people to LIVE!
I was thinking about this concept on my commute to work today. I thought “if I were to die today, am I happy with all that I’ve done, and do I have any regrets?” I would say that, overall, I’m quite content with the life I’ve lived up to this point. My regrets would include, to name a couple, not being as kind as I am capable, and focusing too much on myself at times. This was a humbling thought that encouraged me to reflect on what is really important.
Whenever life throws you a curve ball, or you don’t get the grade you’d like, or you get stuck in traffic, remember that the fact you are even here is a miracle and use the concept of death to remind you of what is truly important and worth investing emotional and mental energy in. You might even be able to say that death reminded you how to live today.