“Not to live as if you had endless years ahead of you. Death overshadows you. While you’re alive and able—be good." - Marcus Aurelius
At a Roman Triumph, the vast majority of people would be watching the victorious leader at the head of the procession. Only a small number of people would notice the man standing just behind him, who was giving him advice. It was an important lesson for him to hear at the height of his success and power. "Remember, thou art mortal."
In our daily lives, we often find ourselves confronted with situations that make us feel uncomfortable. These may include things such as death, illness, loss, divorce, failure, rejection, loneliness, and so forth. For whatever reason, these experiences can leave us feeling helpless, angry, sad, anxious, depressed, guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, confused, and/or hopeless. When faced with these circumstances, our egos run away from them, and we try to hide from them. However, if we really stop to think about what is happening, we realize that everyone else around us is also facing similar situations, and they too are trying to deal with them.
You should remember that death is inevitable.
Throughout history, MEMENTO MORI REMINDERES have come in many forms, including those intended to humble, inspire, and others to remind us of our mortality. For example, the Aide Behind the Generals was meant to humble him, while the invention of the Eiffel Tower inspired passion for living. The essayist Michel De Montaigne was fond of an old Egyptian tradition where during times of celebrations, a skeleton would be carried around with everyone cheering “drink and be merry for death will make your face look like this!”
I'm not sure why anyone would want to contemplate death. What could possibly be gained by thinking about something so negative? However, if we can somehow find a way to make it fun, then maybe we'll get somewhere. So instead of focusing on death itself, let's focus on the positive aspects of death. Let's think about how much better off we'd be without it. We wouldn't have to worry about aging, disease, accidents, or any of those things that happen to people. In fact, we'd live forever! That's pretty cool. So, instead of fearing death, let's enjoy it. Let's take advantage of it. Let's learn to love it.
You can live your entire day without doing any work. But if you spend your whole day working, then you've wasted your entire day. So why would anyone ever choose to waste their precious days? The answer is simple: because they're worth something. And so are you.
When I think about my own death, I feel nothing but gratitude. It is a privilege to live. It is a blessing to be alive. We should enjoy every day because one day we may not wake up. So why worry? Why stress out? Why fret? Why fear? What does it mean to be mortal? How do I know what matters? How do I find my purpose? How do I get started? These questions are meaningless. They are just distractions. You cannot control your fate. You can only control yourself. Your decisions define your future. Your actions determine your destiny. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
In the face of adversity, we must remind ourselves that every day could be our last. We must also remember that no matter how hard things get, they can only get worse. So rather than dwell on what might happen, we should focus on what already happened. And if we do this right, we can make sure that whatever happens next is better than what came before.