Memento Mori

For the past few years I’ve been trying to be more mindful and present in my day-to-day life. It’s a daily struggle for me as my brain likes to go into autopilot and just cruise through the day. Some days are better than others. I meditate, sometimes. I do mindfulness activities, occasionally. I try to focus on specific things throughout the day, when I remember.

The one thing that’s been consistent for years has been my Project 365, which helps me at least pay a little attention to my day and be able to look back at what was important.

The reason I’ve been trying to be more present and mindful is because I want to truly enjoy life. Don’t get me wrong I’ve had a great life, have had a lot of fun in the past, and experienced a lot of great things. But I have a terrible long-term memory and don’t remember a lot of it … just bits and pieces. I figure a good dose of being present will help me truly enjoy the moment and maybe help me remember it down the road.

Recently I’ve started reading about Stoicism and the Stoic philosophers, especially through the Daily Stoic. This year I’ve been reading a daily passage in “The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living” by Ryan Holiday to help guide my study.

One of the practices that’s been elusive to me … or maybe just scary … has been Memento Mori. The definition of Memento Mori is an object that reminds us of death. The Stoic practice is essentially the same, but more to reflect on the fact that we can die at any time and should enjoy the moment. For some reason I’ve always been very pragmatic about the fact that life is temporary so we might as well enjoy ourselves. In the past that meant I didn’t really plan anything and just flew by the seat of my pants. How I made it as far as I have in life, I’ll never know.

This morning I watched this TEDx talk by Holiday about Memento Mori and suddenly it seems less scary.

The way Holiday explains it makes me realize that Memento Mori also already fits into my personal beliefs about the temporariness of life. But, whereas it has been a belief, the practice of Memento Mori will remind me to act with intention daily. Make the most of what I have. I can enjoy life, but not mindlessly. Have intention in what I do because life is fleeting.

Anyway, this is just my Saturday morning rambling thoughts about life over a cup of coffee. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some dogs to walk. And while I’m out there, I’m going to take a deep breath, enjoy the chilly temperatures, and listen to the birds who think it’s already spring.