April 20, 2024

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Memento Mori: A Simple Practice for a Complex Time

17 min read

There is very little much more selected in life than the certainty of loss of life. It can be the good equalizer of the earth, and it is blind – no make any difference if a particular person is prosperous or poor, nutritious or unhealthy, excellent or undesirable, intelligent or ignorant, any sentient staying that experiences life have to also knowledge loss of life. It behooves anyone who needs to strengthen themself to be aware of loss of life and one’s mortality.

 

Memento Mori: A Simple Practice for a Complex Time - Fitness, fitness, meditation, motivation, focus, ego, mind-body connection, self confidence, inspiration, procrastination, mindfullness, goal planning, Life Challenges, fitness motivation, stoicism

 

 

Does That Feel Somber?

It will not have to be if you have the suitable state of mind. You can pick to are living in relative ease and comfort, keep away from most hazards of damage, suppose the story is unheroically about you, and get there on death’s shore somewhat harmless and intact, unmarred by the labor of good pursuits in company to a bring about larger than your existence.

 

At the same time, you are dealing with the burden of regret for under no circumstances being aware of the true extent of your capabilities.

 

On the other hand, you can pick to depart powering a legacy outlined by a life lived with deep goal, indicating, ethical character, convictions, compassion, and bravery, potent sufficient to inspire people lengthy soon after your flesh and bones return to dust and particulate silence.

 

Innumerable people in the course of human historical past have mirrored on loss of life as a way to knowledge life and are living it to their fullest potential. The exercise has had numerous names in numerous languages over the millennia, but these times it is really most frequently referred to as Memento Mori.

 

A Brief Historical past of Memento Mori

Memento Mori interprets to, “Keep in mind, you have to die.” The exercise has a really lengthy historical past that crosses cultures, continents, religions, and philosophies: from the historic philosophers of Greece to Roman generals, Buddhist monks to Islamic Sufis – meditation on loss of life permitted them all to pursue life.

 

In Plato’s Phaedo, the good thinker Socrates states just before he is about to die:

 

 “…he who has lived as a true thinker has purpose to be of excellent cheer when he is about to die, and that soon after loss of life he may well hope to acquire the greatest excellent in the other earth…For I deem that the true disciple of philosophy is most likely to be misunderstood by other men they do not perceive that he is at any time pursuing loss of life and dying…”

 

The instance that Socrates established all through his life and just before his execution would depart a long lasting legacy on the entirety of Western civilization and lead to the delivery of numerous different colleges of philosophy.

 

A person college in particular – Stoicism – becoming nicely-recognised as a sensible college of philosophy that stressed the significance of contemplating loss of life. The surviving writings of the historic Stoics are crammed with admonitions to don’t forget loss of life and the 3 most nicely-recognised Stoics:

 

 

  1. The slave, Epictetus
  2. The Roman statesman, Seneca
  3. The Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius

 

All have anything to say about loss of life.

 

“All that you see will shortly perish those who witness this perishing will shortly perish themselves. Die in excessive aged age or die just before your time – it will all be the same.”

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, nine.33

 

“Keep the prospect of loss of life, exile and all this kind of clear tragedies just before you every single working day – especially loss of life – and you will under no circumstances have an abject believed, or want nearly anything to extra.”

– Epictetus, Enchiridion, 21

 

I am endeavoring to are living every single working day as if it had been a comprehensive life. I do not in truth snatch it up as if it had been my last I do regard it, nonetheless, as if it may even be my last. The existing letter is written to you with this in mind as if loss of life had been about to get in touch with me away in the really act of creating. I am ready to depart, and I shall enjoy life just for the reason that I am not over-anxious as to the long run date of my departure.”

– Seneca, Letters From a Stoic, Letter 61

 

The historic Romans also practiced the contemplation of loss of life, Memento Mori staying a Latin phrase.

 

Memento Mori comes from a Roman custom in which a common would consider element in a triumphal procession via the city, upon returning to Rome soon after a important victory. To be the subject matter of this kind of a march was a good honor and the want of numerous formidable soldiers.

 

As the triumphant common was carried via the city in his horse-drawn chariot to the good applause and praise of the people of Rome, a slave would stand powering him, holding a crown over his head and whispering, “Respice submit te. Hominem te memento. Memento mori!”

 

“Look powering you. Keep in mind you are mortal. Keep in mind you have to die!”

 

This custom was an possibility for the common to toss a grand celebration, and it permitted him some self-marketing, which could come in handy need to he make a decision to run for political business office someday. It can be a little bit difficult functioning for business office when nobody’s listened to of you, soon after all.

 

The goal of the slave whispering in his ear was to hold the general’s moi and point of view in check out in the course of the overall celebration, lest he forgets himself and does anything disgraceful and offensive to the gods.

 

Memento Mori: A Simple Practice for a Complex Time - Fitness, fitness, meditation, motivation, focus, ego, mind-body connection, self confidence, inspiration, procrastination, mindfullness, goal planning, Life Challenges, fitness motivation, stoicism

 

A couple hundred yrs later on, all through the late Middle Ages, Memento Mori had designed into an artwork type recognised as Danse Macabre or the Dance of Demise.

 

At this stage in historical past, Europe had just been devastated by the Black Demise pandemic, with the most fatalities at any time recorded in human historical past loss of life was on everyone’s mind.

 

The Danse Macabre was a meditation on the universality of loss of life: no make any difference how prosperous or how poor one particular is, loss of life comes for us all.

 

The artwork would normally attribute a personification of loss of life (a skeleton or corpse) top people from different stations in life – generally a pope, king, emperor, laborer, and child – in a dance to their graves.

 

Memento Mori: A Simple Practice for a Complex Time - Fitness, fitness, meditation, motivation, focus, ego, mind-body connection, self confidence, inspiration, procrastination, mindfullness, goal planning, Life Challenges, fitness motivation, stoicism

 

In the 17th century, Dutch artists applied a type of continue to life portray recognised as vanitas artwork (from the very first chapter of Ecclesiastes, “All is self-importance.”) as a Memento Mori. The artwork would attribute skulls, rotting fruit, candles, hourglasses, useless and wilted bouquets, and much more atop tables as potent imagery to remind the viewer of loss of life.

 

By the nineteenth century, Memento Mori had moved from paintings to jewellery, with people from all walks of life donning rings featuring skulls, coffins, the phrase “Memento Mori,” or a combination of the 3 as a frequent reminder of the wearer’s mortality.

 

However not practically as prevalent in the minds of the common populace as it once was, Memento Mori is owning a present day resurgence. Persons are getting Memento Mori medallions to carry with them in their pockets as a frequent reminder that they will one particular working day die.

 

This kind of nicely-recognised figures as Tim Ferriss, Casey Neistat, and much more carry a Memento Mori medallion with them, and even Memento Mori rings are producing a comeback.

 

I’m a element of this present day resurgence.

 

Memento Mori and The Twelve Labors Task

Memento Mori is the device that I use to triumph over the difficulties in my life and discover the inspiration to drive via any impediment that I see just before me.

 

When I consider on physical difficulties as element of my Twelve Labors Task, Memento Mori is what retains me grounded, focused on the existing, and aware of what actually issues in a universe that would seem to be unraveling.

 

Memento Mori: A Simple Practice for a Complex Time - Fitness, fitness, meditation, motivation, focus, ego, mind-body connection, self confidence, inspiration, procrastination, mindfullness, goal planning, Life Challenges, fitness motivation, stoicism

 

In 2016, for my fifth labor, I established out by yourself in the barren wilderness of the northern Mojave Desert to increase awareness of veteran suicide by pulling a two.five-ton pickup truck throughout Demise Valley.

 

With a landscape as gorgeous as it is bleak, my only companions in the course of the 22-mile obstacle had been stones sculpted over the millennia by the desert wind and rain, dunes that mirrored the sun’s blinding gentle, the searing heat that burns nearly anything that enters the Valley, and my ideas.

 

Each individual mile that I pulled the truck via the desert represented one particular of the 22 lives that are shed every single working day to veteran suicide.

 

With every single move I took and every single inch of ground that I received, Demise Valley would try a small more challenging to encourage me to consider off the upper body harness and give up the obstacle it only at any time got hotter and drier as the journey progressed.

 

Normally, the solitude that I expert all through the obstacle forced me to confront the worst of myself – my doubts, my fears, my insecurities, and every little thing I had at any time come to regret in my life.

 

I would consider a move and listen to a voice, “Give up! There is no disgrace in quitting.”

 

I would consider an additional move and convey to myself, “Memento Mori! Keep in mind, you have to die! Keep in mind why you are listed here!”

 

Reflecting on my mortality and the memory of those who we’ve shed to suicide fortified my measures and produced the seemingly unachievable, feasible.

 

The dichotomy amongst loss of life and the existing minute turned much more clear than at any time, opening my perspective to views and insights that under no circumstances just before transpired to me.

 

It was the catalyst I necessary to regain my momentum and embrace my fate minute by minute with a whole coronary heart and unyielding solve.

 

Becoming by yourself in Demise Valley with a two.five-ton pickup truck strapped to your again is a surefire way to come encounter to encounter with your mortality, and the exercise of Memento Mori is what permitted me to keep focused on a objective that was even bigger than myself. I wasn’t striving for recognition when I hauled a truck throughout the desert.

 

I wished to increase the awareness of an alarming difficulty that’s plaguing veterans. Whether or not or not I concluded the labor or somebody else did was irrelevant, so lengthy as people had been produced aware of the bring about that spurred the obstacle.

 

I could have died at any stage all through my trek via the desert – I could die at any minute, seriously – the recognition, the accolades, it would all be meaningless to me soon after that.

 

The bring about, nonetheless, would are living-on.

 

“On fame. Search at their minds, the nature of their believed and what they look for or keep away from. And see how, just as drifting sands frequently overlay the past sand, so in our lives what we once did is really immediately lined over by subsequent layers.”

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, seven.34

 

How Memento Mori can Spur action

Memento Mori isn’t really just a device to motivate on your own to drag a truck via a hellish landscape – it can also act as a catalyst for enthusiasm and efficiency every single working day.

 

Procrastination is a obstacle that most people encounter day by day, and I’m no exception. Why hassle finding out of mattress every single morning to encounter an awkward earth when ease and comfort can be found presently less than the blankets? Why hassle carrying out nearly anything at all?

 

What kind of life would that be?

 

“So it is: we are not provided a brief life but we make it brief, and we are not unwell-supplied but wasteful of it.”

– Seneca, On the Shortness of Lifetime

 

Seneca knew that we so frequently waste life clinging to idleness and comforts that only provide to distract us from fulfilling our optimum potential.

 

A life lived in pursuit of ease and comfort though putting off our duty is a life invested squandering the finite quantity of time we have. Obtain ease and comfort in the awkward, and don’t forget you have to die: why waste your time on minutiae when your time is brief?

 

If you want to fulfill precise health and fitness ambitions, Memento Mori is the motivator you need to have to get to the health and fitness center (or probably your property health and fitness center for now) and achieve those ambitions.

 

When you wake up in the morning, established an affirmation for on your own that you will do what you need to have to do to fulfill your ambitions, irrespective of the obstacles you may well encounter.

 

Remind on your own of your mortality and that you would instead not expend the important time you have remaining seeing tv or sleeping.

 

Which is what I convey to myself every single working day just before I educate, and it is really what you can say to on your own, also.

 

If your objective is to have a healthier diet regime, Memento Mori can assist you to create healthier feeding on and drinking routines. Lifetime is brief – do you want your final moments invested in a drunken haze? I doubt it.

 

Certain, we are all fated to die one particular working day, but that will not signify that we need to use every single minute we have in hedonistic pursuits. The cake is excellent, but need to we consume it for every single meal? Of study course not.

 

Overindulgence in unhealthy feeding on and drinking will only carry loss of life faster, though nutritious routines will provide to hold life lengthy and assist you access your fullest potential.

 

A nutritious human body would make for a nutritious mind, soon after all.

 

Memento Mori and Planet Occasions

The earth is presently dealing with turbulence that hasn’t been felt in a lengthy time. Local weather transform is triggering extremes in weather disorders that have led to intense droughts, substantial forest and bush fires, and hurricanes, the like of which humanity has not viewed considering the fact that biblical times.

 

We are in the middle of a global pandemic, with COVID-19 spreading via cities reminiscent of the Black Plague of the medieval period of time. Governments are utilizing the panic and distraction caused by the pandemic to drive agendas on both finishes of the political spectrum.

 

American legislation enforcement is less than magnified scrutiny due to situations where extreme employs of force and deficiency of human decency resulted in undue loss of life. These points are developing within just an ambiance of violent riots and tranquil protests towards racial injustice and police brutality.

 

Some social concerns are staying conflated with broader types to embolden movements and assaults towards selected teams. In contrast, other significant concerns are staying drowned out by a deafening silence only for their deficiency of utility or mere advantage within just the well known narrative.

 

As an American with deep adore and hope for this place, who also happens to be a particular person of colour, allow us tread via these troubled waters collectively.

 

I believe that the greatest adversary to justice and inequality for all people are the unacknowledged unions amongst indifference and management, ignorance and electrical power, and apathy and panic.

 

In the words and phrases of the American novelist and activist, James Baldwin:

 

“Not every little thing that is confronted can be transformed, but very little can be transformed until eventually it is confronted.”

 

We have to have the bravery to struggle and disintegrate these shadow alliances currently and hereafter, lengthy soon after the media moves on from it, and it is no for a longer time trending.

 

As Og Mandino once wrote:

 

“Tomorrow is only found in the calendar of fools.”

 

Memento Mori, as a exercise all through this challenging time in historical past, makes it possible for us to encounter our fears, flaws, and failures independently and as a place. These events compel purposeful action with a sense of urgency, not from a put of hate or vengeance, but from a put of empathy and compassion less than the premise that this working day, this hour, this minute is all we have.

 

Tomorrow is not a guarantee but a mere believed—an assumption of an uncertain long run time and put arising in the existing.

 

These steps consist of defending people’s suitable to criticize our country’s shortcomings and peacefully protest them though supporting the constitutional principles upon which The united states stands—all within just the same breath of passion and wholehearted conviction.

 

We are all dying from a long-term situation referred to as life. In reality, every single next, we get rid of to laziness, procrastination, or indifference endlessly belongs to loss of life.

 

Every single possibility to do excellent in the earth, irrespective of a person’s race, politics, faith, or social class, turns into a present when we embrace the fact that every single human on earth will one particular working day knowledge the same loss of cherished types and struggling like you.

 

It would make sense to be kind to every single particular person we come across all through these complex times when we remind ourselves that loss of life is the final arbiter.

 

Out of the 4 Stoic virtues of knowledge, bravery, temperance, and justice, Marcus Aurelius felt that justice was the most significant of them all.

 

“And a dedication to justice in your own acts. Which suggests: believed and action resulting in the common excellent. What you had been born to do.”

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, nine.31

 

When confronted with a kind of turmoil that we have not viewed for generations, Memento Mori can be the guideline that aids us navigate via the existing weather.

 

Every single time you observe recent events on the news or witness injustice going on in entrance of you, you have a selection amongst action or inaction.

 

Reflection on our mortality can let us to see the even bigger picture, encounter injustice like a true Stoic, and existing alternatives based on purpose and sound judgment.

 

We have to die, it is really true, but have to we die owning accomplished very little for the reward of the larger excellent? No. Our lives have indicating when we are living in accordance to our principles and stand up for what is suitable and excellent in the earth.

 

Demise comes to all people, that’s for sure – there’s no stage in stressing about when or how it will come when the most uncertain element of life is how we pick to are living it.

 

Soon after all, loss of life is only the end less than the presumption that the story is only about you. Our excellent deeds and energy of character are immortal, standing as residing monuments in those we inspire—more potent than mere words and phrases on a tombstone can at any time be.

 

There’s a Greek proverb that I sense superbly exemplifies the stage I am seeking to make:

 

“A culture grows good when aged men plant trees whose shade they know they shall under no circumstances sit in.”

 

Perhaps we’re not all aged but, but if we want our culture to increase, then we have to plant the seeds of justice and adore so that long run generations can enjoy the shade of these trees.

 

Doing so is a selection that we have to make, thoroughly aware of the fact that loss of life comes to us all at some point, but the repercussions of our decisions are living on in the earth and influence the generations that observe.

 

“You may well depart this life at any minute have this chance in your mind in all that you do or say or assume.”

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, two.11

 

Taking the suggestions of Marcus Aurelius, we can allow the inevitability of our demise advise our way of life. With every single solitary selection we make and every single solitary action we consider, we can perspective it in gentle of our loss of life just before we make that selection or consider that action. Question on your own these queries:

 

“Do I want to be remembered as the particular person who turned away from injustice?”

“Am I okay with staying the bring about of inequality and struggling?”

“Do I actually sense indifferent to the plight of the oppressed?”

 

When culture lacks proper management, you have to find out to glimpse to your principles to lead on your own.

 

Living in accordance to your principles may well bring about you to stand by yourself towards a group it can lead to panic and doubt, and will nearly undoubtedly carry the strain down on you from personal users of culture – but you have to stand resolute.

 

If you can’t stand company in your convictions though seeking to strengthen culture and crumple at the very first indication of pushback or be part of the group when it acts towards your principles, then you have not stood for nearly anything at all. In chapter 24 of the Enchiridion, Epictetus has the subsequent to say about benefitting communities:

 

“Very well, what will my occupation in the group be?’ What ever posture you are equipped to fill, so lengthy as you preserve the guy of have confidence in and integrity. If you get rid of that in your zeal to be a public benefactor, what use in the end will you be to the group once you have been rendered shameless and corrupt?”

 

To that end, we have to stand up to human indecency in the variety of violence and rioting.

 

What would you listen to if you went about your group and explained to people that you robbed their firms for their reward and destroyed their homes to secure their rights? It can be not likely that you would encounter gratitude from victims of violence and theft, don’t you assume?

 

Memento Mori can be the catalyst for action, but it can also be the catalyst for restraint. Use it to remind on your own of what form of conduct you want people to don’t forget. Just as you can question on your own queries to assist you consider action, you can also question queries that encourage restraint:

 

“Do I want to be remembered as the particular person who destroyed someone’s livelihood?”

“Am I willing to sacrifice my convictions just to fulfill the mob’s lust for violence?”

“Will this assist my case or harm it?”

 

Memento Mori will be the guideline that reminds you that there is usually a even bigger picture and that it is not usually intelligent to act, just as it is not usually intelligent to keep on being inactive. Epictetus in chapter 33 of the Enchiridion once once more admonishes us to be company in our convictions:

 

“Settle on the form of particular person you want to be and adhere to it, irrespective of whether by yourself or in corporation.”

 

When you have determined who you want to be, Memento Mori will assist you to adhere to it, reminding you when to act and when not to.

 

It requires bravery and sacrifice to do anything for a bring about larger than on your own, but you won’t get rid of on your own to the baser instincts of the moi so lengthy as you don’t forget this:

 

“Look powering you. Keep in mind you are mortal. Keep in mind you have to die!”

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