Remember You Will Die
I’m a pretty young man. I’m in my early to mid twenties depending on who you ask. And like most men of this era (and my generation in particular) I tend to procrastinate. I have no sense of urgency with my life.
Like many people I have grand goals. I want a decent house (I found the perfect one already. if I had $600,000 right now I would have gotten it), a job I love, and a woman to share my life with and give me a few wonderful kids (2-3 sons and a daughter).
But you know, I really haven’t made any progress on any of those goals. I’m still pretty poor with a good amount of student debt and working a dead end job that is a joke.
The other day I was examining why I wasn’t working very hard to achieve the things I want. I determined that I thought I had time. I’m still young, just starting out in life. Trying to get established. I have plenty of time to accomplish my goals. I don’t need to change jobs right now because I haven’t found the perfect one and I might as well stay where I’m at till I do. I can wait till tomorrow to read that book. I don’t feel like taking advantage of an opportunity because it will always be there tomorrow.
In short, I believe I am immortal. I have no fear of death (except in the physical sense when I’m doing something stupid). I do not fear time. And I’m willing to bet neither do you.
You see we live in a society completely divorced from death. We kill out food in vast factories. We don’t have massive wars anymore. And the ones that we do have a fraction of the casualties.
Out of sight out of mind.
That is until death comes after you, or someone close to you and forces you to accept your fate. We aren’t surrounded by death so we don’t think it has any real power. Or at the very least we bury our fear to provide a false sense of security.
But that’s a lie.
You will die.
Your heart will stop and your life will flash before your eyes. All those unfinished tasks will flood through your mind. And your final moments will probably be filled with pain and regret.
But our medieval ancestors had a remedy for that. Aside from being surrounded by death constantly. It was call memento mori. A Latin phrase meaning remember you will die. They would have images of skulls and death around them to help them meditate on their own mortality. Death would be a constant shadow cast over them. Pushing them on to live virtuous and productive lives.
That is the cure for your procrastination and stagnation. You must remember your own mortality. You have to truly think on it. Not just a fleeting thought but a deep contemplation. You have to feel it throughout your body. You need to imagine it and feel your heart racing with fear and adrenaline.
I guarantee if you do that you’ll have a little more urgency to your life. You’ll have something chasing you and pushing you to reach your goals before it’s too late.
And just like the Vikings, Spartans, Western Knights, and Samurai, if you can embrace your mortality you’ll have no more fear, and accomplish great things.
I’m case you can’t hear them:
“Up onto the overturned keel
Clamber, with a heart of steel
Cold is the ocean’s spray
And your death is on its way
With maidens you have had your way
Each must die some day!”