Memento Mori

skull, black and white, memento mori, symbol, death

What does it mean to think about death? I’m guessing as long as we upright monkeys have been able to articulate sorrow and loss over something we love, we’ve contemplated this question. Our own, of those around us, of the things we love (or of the thing we hate).

Death. It’s that grand unspoken thing that, deep down, we’re terrified of and seethingly wish upon others. Having experienced so much of it in the last couple of years, I think I started to come to grips with and begin to understand at a cellular level what it meant to face the inevitable.

And, it changed me.

I can’t say if it was changed for the better or the worse. To be honest, I don’t think it’s a better or worse thing. From a high level, the only way I’ve been able to process it is in understanding the change through the mental lens of Memento Mori.

I’ve always had a fascination with the imagery of a Memento Mori: skulls, hourglasses, guttering candles, more so when combined with alchemical elements of change and the necessity to capture one’s thoughts surrounded by the imagery. But I don’t think it ever impressed the ideas into my head until undergoing the loss of so many around me.

Remember Death. Remember Your Death. All Will Die. You will die. I will one day die.

It doesn’t evoke fear or terror at what fate awaits us all. No, it’s more a melancholy over what the life misspent and an unyielding drive to not squander the time I have left. Remember death. To forget or block out the inevitable is crime perpetrated towards ourselves that once gone is lost forever. None of us can go back and recapture the lost time of our youth, the misspent idylls of our existence.

The cellular realization of this was the ignition of a fuse that burns in my veins to not lose any more time. On anything. On doing, on loving, on producing, on learning, on being.

I’m terrified now of losing each unproductive moment of life. Because once it’s gone. It’s gone.

Memento Mori. Remember death. It’s coming. It’s inevitable. Don’t let the time slip away.

I’m not. Or at least I’m trying not to. There’s too much to do before it’s over.

Four

four,death,life,living

Four is the number of deaths I’ve experienced in the last 12 months, almost to the day.

I know I’m not unique. I know I’m not the only one on the planet to have experienced this. Despite those diminishments to the experience, I feel affected.

One was the passage of time. Another the failing of health. Fate and circumstance took another and the last the victim of the nature of divine cruelty for the created.

I am affected in the way that these passings remind me, 4 times over, of the fleetingness of this physical existence. No matter our wealth; no matter our status. Which makes what we do and when we do it that much more important.

A symbolism guru I study relates the number 4 to the human situation, “…the external and natural limits of the totality.” It feels like that here—four examples of how and why to live.

What do you do with this kind of knowledge? What do you do after the grief, sorrow and melancholy have moved through their phases?

What’s the question I’m asking myself (again) in the wake of the latest news. In some respects, I’m feeling angry with the actions of the world, but resigned to the notion that it happens. Of all the takeaways, I think the one that makes the starkest contrast is the drive to do more. To create and make art. To make sure I can get out what it is I need to get out before my time comes.

Is that a little morbid? Maybe. A little selfish? No, I don’t think it is. I think it’s making the best out of the worst. I want each one of these losses to be a lesson to me to not lose track and forget what it is I’m doing here.

I’ve had enough of death. I get it. I get the message, universe. One day I’ll be the reminder for someone else to get on with their lives and get moving. Hopefully, I will have gotten out everything I needed to get out.