It is interesting how death is the only certainty in life, and we seldom think about it. But why, why spend your life thinking about death? Isn’t it a waste of your precious life to spend it thinking about your mortality?
Well, let’s discuss.
Steve Jobs the founder of Apple used death as a compass to navigate on this journey called life. He would start his days by asking ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ Think about it, how often do we do this needed reality check? We are all caught up in the busyness of life, we are navigating life on auto-pilot. Starting your mornings thinking about your mortality helps you snap out of the auto-pilot mode. It will help you question the direction you are in, and will leave room for the needed course correction.
There is this powerful Latin word called Memento Mori, which translates to ‘remember that you must die’. In the olden Rome kings after victories would have slaves shout memento mori to ensure that they don’t get caught in pride. Imagine how differently you would treat people around you if you acknowledge death. The fights won’t last long, you won’t wait for the other person to come and say sorry. You would call back that family member with whom you have not talked for years. You will let go of your ego and will have more meaningful relations.
We go to sleep at night by setting an alarm for the next day, as if it is guaranteed that we would wake up. We live as if we are immortals, we are busy complaining about all the problems in our lives. What if we started our mornings paying gratitude to the fact that we are alive? Stoic philosophy talks about going to sleep acknowledging that it is your last day, and you have lived your life to the full. If you wake up the next day, well it is a bonus, be thankful for that. By starting your day paying gratitude for your bonus life, you end up starting your day in happiness and thankfulness. You will live the day with a positive outlook. Will ensure that you live your day to full because this might be your last day alive.
In the book Die Empty by Todd Henry he talks about how the graveyard is the most valuable land in the world. ‘In the graveyard are buried all of the unwritten novels, never-launched businesses, unreconciled relationships, and all of the other things that people thought, ‘I’ll get around to that tomorrow.’ One day, however, their tomorrow ran out. Remembering that we will be dead soon, will help us cope with procrastination and will make sure that we don’t go to our grave with our best work inside us.
Montaigne put it, “To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.” You are no more a slave to the definition of success by society, you are no more a slave to the status game, you free to do things you always wanted to do. Once you understand that, you won’t sacrifice your passion to be able to fit into the picture of society.
Stoic Philosopher Seneca has said that ‘while we wait for life, life passes.’ Meditating on death will ensure that you are able to experience your life to the fullest.
As said by Benjamin Franklin ‘You may delay, but time will not.’ Whatever it may be, love, family, work, passion, never delay it, don’t set them up for tomorrow, your tomorrow might never come.
To live is the rarest thing in the world; most people just exist. ― Oscar Wilde
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