Morbid, isn’t it? The whole concept of memento mori was new to me nearly 5 years ago. For those unfamiliar, Memento mori is a latin phrase mearning ‘remmeber you must die’.
While I had experienced loss, I didn’t experience the loss of a parent until 5 years ago. I had a different way of living one. One that didn’t truly comprehend death. After the loss of my father, things changed. I became abundantly aware of how short life is. I became aware of the importance of living everyday like your last.
I still have my moments. Moments were I’m in a blah mood. Covid has a way of making you feel like nothing matters. But then I wake up. I emerge out of my funk by telling myself I may not wake up tomorrow. I remember death so that I can live today.
Remembering death allows me to fully live life. By remembering death, I tend not to spend hours in front of the tv. I am constantly doing, absorbing, learning. It’s exhausting frankly speaking. The times I need some downtime, I force myself. After a little while, I begin to feel ansty. I start moving again. Picking things up, checking on the kids, I am constantly doing.
There’s a fine balance between remembering death and focusing on death. By remembering death, you have an awareness that life isn’t permanent. By focusing on death, life may not seem like it matters. There’s definitely a fine balance and it can easily go into overdrive, especially when you’re grieving. When you’re grieving, it’s difficult to think about life let alone live it. But as time goes on, you live. You remember death and you live.
So what’s living life versus not living life? How do we know if we are properly taking advantage of all life has to over?
I’ve asked myself this question over and over again and I think it comes down to the following. If you’re not challenging yourself, you’re not living. If every day is status quo and there’s no accomplishment, you’re not leading a fulfilling life. You are going through the motions of life without really living it. It’s incredibly easy to get to this place. I call it the unmotivated gutter. I’m there more than I’d like to be. Day after day, I work, feed kids, eat dinner, then sit on the couch. Rinse and repeat.
When you emerge from the unmotivated gutter, you realize the time you’ve wasted. I could sit on the couch and watch TV, or I could read a book. I could be mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or I could be practicing guitar. It’s the little things you can do that make a difference. It’s the difference between letting life pass you by and actually living it.
With Covid, everything is complicated. We’re barely leaving the house let alone challenging ourselves. But, if we don’t spend the time we have now getting out of the gutter, we never will. We all seem to have an abundance of time now. There’s no better time than to pick yourself up off the couch and do something. Anything. Just get up and do it. Read. Learn. Exercise. Practice. Do. There are so many things you can focus on to improve yourself. By focusing on those things and improving, you’re challenging yourself. By challenging yourself, you’re contributing to the eventual feeling of accomplishment. And when you feel accomplished, you’re living life. That chase of accomplishment is what keeps us going.
“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” – Meister Eckhart
If every day we are a beginner at something, we’re learning something new every day. We are giving ourselves tasks to accomplish that will improve us in some way. Once accomplished, our sense of self grows. We are happier. We are fulfilled.
“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.” – Alan de Botton
Whenever I reflect on how I’ve grown over the years, I ask myself if I’m embarrassed of who I was. Prior to beginning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 3 years ago, I thought I could defend myself should the need arise. I’m a scrappy woman, I assumed my maternal instinct would kick in and I’d be able to defend myself and my children. Actually training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and witnessing first-hand how difficult it is made me more aware. I am embarrassed of the comment I made years ago. I’m not a bear, there is no maternal instinct to fight. We either are trained to do so or we’re not. Had I not trained Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I would have no concept of how difficult it is to defend yourself.
Recently I’ve started playing guitar. My instructor is You Tube. I have gone from playing chords to playing a few songs. Don’t get me wrong, I still stink. I’m very much a beginner. But the fact that I can pick up a guitar, tune it, and play a song is something I never thought I’d be able to do. Years ago, I never thought to myself I would have time to play guitar. My time was dedicated to my children. Now I realize how foolish that was. There are thing you can do with your children. You can make time to do anything if you really want to do it. I’m embarrassed of the person years ago who thought they didn’t have 10 minutes a day to watch a video on You Tube and follow along. It’s possible. You just have to want it.
In 2021, we should remember death. We should remember death so we can continue to live life. I want to take advantage of the time I have here and make the most of it. I want to live life with purpose, learn and feel accomplishment. Most of all, I want to be embarrassed of who I was in 2020. By doing that, I’ll be on the way to being a better version of myself.