You are going to die someday.
You can try to forget about it. You can ignore it. You can try to deny it. You can even pin your hopes on the Singularity, cryonics, or medical nanobots that go inside your body and fix all of your health problems – personally, I’m not going to bet on them, no matter what Ray Kurzweil says. Chances are, like every other human being who has ever lived, you are going to die someday.
You’re not going to live forever.
If you live in a developed country, have access to healthcare, and don’t get hit by a bus, your average life expectancy is somewhere around 80 years old – plus or minus a few years. If you’re female, add a few years. If you’re lucky, you’ll live into your 90s, and if you’re very lucky, past 100.
That’s less time than you think. Take 80 years, and subtract your current age – that’s probably how long you have left, and the years probably passed by quicker than you thought they would.
If I could give everyone in the world a message, I’m not sure what I would pick – but one candidate would be “Memento Mori.”
Memento Mori is latin for “remember that you must die.” You can find the idea throughout art and philosophy, but it is especially popular with the Stoics.
“Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. … The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.” Seneca
“Memento Mori” a reminder that you are mortal, and you have one chance to live your life well.
Live your life as fully and excellently as you can right now – because the current moment is all you’re going to have. Stop wasting time on things you don’t want to do, or things you know that you shouldn’t do. Stop doing things you know you’re going to regret at age 80. Stop putting off the things you’ve been dreaming of for years, waiting for the perfect moment.
There is no perfect moment. There is only your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.
Do the work! – whatever that means to you. Make something you’re proud of – especially if you’re looking back on your life so far, and don’t have much to be proud of right now. Start thinking about your legacy, and what kind of impact you want to have on the world when the final chapter of your life is written.
You don’t know when that final chapter is going to be written. You might be in the final pages.
Memento Mori, reader.