Memento Mori – Remember that you are (have to) die. Not the most pleasant phrase to think about as you are going about your day. This phrase is not meant to frighten readers but rather to remind everyone that no one is eternal. Memento Mori means to stop putting things off until tomorrow. Stop believing that you are going to live forever and start doing today what you are pushing to tomorrow.
When the longest- and shortest-lived of us dies their loss is precisely equal. For the sole thing of which any of us can be deprived is the present, since this is all we own, and nobody can lose what is not theirsMarcus Aurelius
Time waits for no man and you are not the exception. Some people believe that death happens all at once. I sway towards the belief that any time that has passed is death. Humans have only so many days on this earth and everyday that passes is one less we possess. When you sit down in the evening and take an account of your day, were you proud of how you spent your time? If you are fortunate enough to have tomorrow, could you make that day better than today?
Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s account every day… One who daily puts the finishing touches to his life is never in want of time.Seneca
That is the true purpose of Memento Mori! To evaluate your spent time and try to optimize your life to get the most out of this precious commodity. Not to dwell upon the thought of never being on the earth again but to stop procrastinating and living life now is the purpose. A post written on the blog earlier about Remembering the GO part, reminds everyone not linger but get started now. By evaluating the death of a loved one, this will give you a more keen sense of gratitude for time that you still have with them.
The Stoics spent a large portion discussing how to ”die well”. The knowledge that they didn’t leave any business unfinished, which is Memento Mori. I always think of my dishes and how they start piling up. There is not a good reason why I don’t wash them right after I dirty them. Cleaning them promptly would lower my anxiety about future household duties. If we would stop procrastinating and just start the task, we can recognize that it was not as horrible as our mind lead us to believe.
The Stoics believed death was a return to the natural state, going back to the earth from which all life has come. Human memories will return to the place they were before humans were born. Do you have memories before you were born? You will have these same memories after your death. By practicing Memento Mori, we are preparing ourselves for the eventual end of life and hopefully remove some of the fear that comes with it.
2 thoughts on “Memento Mori – Astonishing Acceptance That You Will Die”
Great post, Tim. This is a topic that changed my view of life in a big way. Knowing that we will die is a big relief. It will put things in perspective and allows you to think about the present moment more. That’s the only thing we truly have, as the Marcus Aurelius quote shows. The past is gone and the future unkown. Thanks for bringing this topic to our attention.
Thank you for the kind words Benny! When I discuss this topic with others, it is amazing how many people have never given a thought to the concept that time on this earth will end for them. They believe that all things can be best done “tomorrow” or another day in the future. As you mentioned, the present is all that we have. We have already “died” everyday previous to today and we don’t know how much time that we have in the future.