I have been waiting with great anticipation for the arrival of my Memento Mori coin, and it arrived today!
Around 10AM my coworkers will usually see me in our office lobby, reading a post from The Daily Stoic while enjoying a cup of tea. Recently, I added mood tracking to my tea break since it seemed like a logical place for me to reflect on my mental and emotional state.
From the Daily Stoic’s store:
In Meditations Marcus Aurelius wrote “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” That was a personal reminder to continue living a life of virtue NOW, and not wait. The French painter Philippe de Champaigne expressed a similar sentiment in his painting "Still Life with a Skull," which showed the three essentials of existence - the tulip (life), the skull (death), and the hourglass (time). The original painting is part of a genre referred to as Vanitas, a form of 17th century artwork featuring symbols of mortality which encourage reflection on the meaning and fleetingness of life.
The word memento comes from Latin, literally ‘remember!’, imperative of meminisse. I am captured by that imperative. Carrying a small object that implores me to STOP and pay attention to what is happening at this moment, and to remember that this moment could be my last.
The back of the coin reads: “You could leave life right now.” What a reminder! Some may consider it morbid that I carry this reminder in my pocket, and I agree with them. However, I would rather be morbidly realistic about my life and take action rather than put off that which truly matters to me. As Seneca caustically puts it:
The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.
This blog is my attempt to reflect more often on how I live, and in that way, live the life of a modern stoic.
I invite you to join me, in your own way, on spending a few moments this week thinking about the manner in which you encounter the daily stressors in your life. Ask yourself - can I respond in a calmer, nicer, and gentler way?