This article is a long due for me. Idea originated like 6 years back when I was in my low of lows. People who know me then, know what I am referring to. Even if not it was a phase where I realized life’s worth.
I recently came across this phrase - Memento Mori. It translates to
Remember you will die . Death always has a negative connotation. But remembering death brings a sense of humility to your life and urgency towards your goals and living the life way you want.
“Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good.” ― Marcus Aurelius
Memento Mori phrase, is attributed to slaves who accompany Roman soldiers on their victory parade keeping saying this phrase to Roman general who is enjoying all the grand attributions and praises. This prevents general grounded and not consumed by pride and over confidence. They might have felt like god, who knows.
Death should not be feared but give you the clarity that life is fragile and you must act on things you wish to do. Like Steve Jobs says in his famous Stanford commencement speech
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. You are naked before death, this should be a reminder to follow your dreams. You have no reason not to.
“Before death takes away what you are given, give away what there is to give.” - Rumi
[ I couldn’t stop myself quoting Rumi ]
Death is negatively associated to suffering but instead it should be associated to help you find purpose of life. It should motivate you. No one wants to die but it is a common destination. We should make best use of our time in here.
The space between “could have” and “I did” is suffering. More we can reduce this space, more we are alive. I can personally say this as my personal experience. Like Rumi says,
“I learned that every mortal will taste death. But only some will taste life.“
Life should be consumed and everyone to realize their full potential. Do their best work
This concept of Death should change our attitude to life. It did for me, in all possibility it should for everyone. It should make us live our life on our own terms. There is this another phrase that I want to bring here.
Carpe diem which roughly translates to
seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow. One should do what one can today and make better for oneself and people around.
Empathy towards fellow humans disregarding where they come from and what they believe in. When People helped me get through my tough phase, I didn’t care who they are and what they believed in. The core idea to help and be there without judging the situation from their logic. I always indebted to people who called and who checked on me all the time.
Focus on things that matter
We should be ruthless to the things that don’t matter. Hardest thing is saying “No”, but once you start, you will start focusing on things that matter and start using your time better. This means spending more time with loved ones and surrounding yourself with quality friends who push your boundaries.
There is a quote “Smart people learn from everything and everyone, good people learn from experience, stupid have all the answers”
You learn and teach people while you are on this earth. Learn everything you can, teach anything you can. Be more transparent to absorb knowledge and be ready to teach.
Every living moment is a blessing and we should make best use of every breath we take. Einstein says
There are 2 ways of living, one everything is a miracle, other there is none
Finally, remembering death makes you appreciates Nature. Nature has given us all goodness, you are not here to live forever. If there is any small way you can contribute to nature, do take that opportunity. Nature is a long term that we fail to realize. Our lives are fragile in face of nature.
These are my personal musings and nothing new in this. But I have personally being distant from these. But knowing these topics theoretically is one thing and realizing is other.
Footnote, How Literatures talks about Death
An Icelandic poetry goes like
Animals die, friends die, and thyself, too, shall die; but one thing I know that never dies the tales of the one who died.
Samurai culture emphazises death as part of their practice.
The Way of the Samurai is, morning after morning, the practice of death, considering whether it will be here or be there, imagining the most sightly way of dying, and putting one’s mind firmly in death. Although this may be a most difficult thing, if one will do it, it can be done. There is nothing that one should suppose cannot be done.
In Dravidian culture from Siddhar-SivaVakkiyar,
மண்கலம் கவிழ்ந்த போது வைத்து வைத்து அடுக்குவார் வெண்கலம் கவிழ்ந்த போது வேணும் என்று பேணுவார் நண்கலம் கவிழ்ந்த போது நாறும் என்று போடுவார் எண்கலந்து நின்ற மாயம்என்ன மாயம் ஈசனே.
Talks about impermanence of human body. When vessels fall,they keep the shards but when the human die, body is dicarded immediately. what an illusion of life you have created, O Lord!
In Islam, many Muslims believe that they are on this earth for a relatively short time and during this time they are preparing themselves for eternal life after death. They view this life as a test and try to do as many good deeds as they can.
In Christianty, death is the central concept. Fragility of life is discussed in all regions and religions in various ways and how to deal with them.
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