Remember, you must die.

Death; oh, how it has flooded my mind lately. More appropriately, the thought alone has consumed my attention, stood defiantly in place against my hesitant rebuttal, and toiled with my attempted understanding of it’s ominous position. However, with this, and with recent encounter of it’s inevitability and swiftness, death’s ever lingering presence has also brought about a sense of compartmentalization, towards how I divide the allotment of my time, who I decide to allow my being, and what I deem as worthy within and of my life. Death has a funny, and yet a not so comical, way of bringing back to the moment reality. We all WILL die, there is no changing this. Despite our various efforts towards a guaranteed life of longevity, no matter how cautious or how tame we live out our days, they are numbered and they remain, with unyielding persistence, in tally; destination and departure unknown. With this… memento mori.

Derived from Latin origin, memento mori, when translated to our modern form of the English language, reminds us bluntly, ‘Remember you must die’. From a perspective more poetically crafted, the painting above, master pieced into existence by 17th Century¬†French painter Philippe de Champaigne, displays through detailed expression the thin line of existence in which we abide. The tulip (life), the skull (death), and the hourglass (time); life, our current experience, remaining in constant shadow of death, which we may encounter at any moment. The only guarantee between the triad conveyed at median; death.

There is no guarantee of a life, even less, if possible, no assurance of time. We aren’t promised a single breath, no law of nature ensuring us an abundance, or even a presence, of either element. So why are we so wasteful of it? Why do we engage with such petty occurrences and tasks? Why do we allow our lives to be consumed with such oblivion, with negligence towards it’s fragility? As mentioned, there remains a thin line between our existence and our demise, yet, we act as if the former is forever. Again, memento mori.

You may be sitting there, reading this, believing it to be the most pessimistic piece you have encountered of late, but I would argue against this innate response. Allow this idea, or truth rather, to bring about a vigor for this life, for this moment. Again we all WILL die, yes, but now, right now, truly be grateful to be alive, I beg you. Wherever you are, right now, reading this, look up from your screen, now around you, and find the beauty of this moment; better yet, bring the beauty to this moment. Take a deep breath, come back to your being, feel the world around you, understand with acquiescence the common fate of us all, and be grateful to be apart of it. You will die, yes, but for now you must live.

From this moment on, to reference the always pertinent Stoic philosophy, to quote Marcus Aurelius, “…think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy,to love.”

And with this, memento mori.

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