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You will die someday | Just Reflections - Issue #30
Memento mori - Remember that you [have to] die
"You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think." — Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations.
Jack Sweeney, a 19-year-old college student in America created the @ElonJet Twitter bot. If you haven't heard about it, it tracks the movements of Elon Musk's private jet using publicly accessible flight data online and posts the information on Twitter. Every departure and every landing. Elon offered Jack Sweeney $5,000 to take down the account, saying it's a security risk for him. He declined, making his own counter ask of $50,000, which Elon declined.
The account is still up, and the jury is still out on whether Elon should have paid more or Jack should have taken this as a golden opportunity to do a favour for his icon. And whether it was right for such a bot to be made in the first place. Either way, it seems Jack Sweeney doesn't mind. After all, he got DM'd by his icon, Elon Musk and even scored a job at UberJets.
Anyway, my favourite Twitter bot is an account called Daily Death Reminder. It does only one thing; every day it tweets, "You will die someday." When I first saw it a few years ago, I followed immediately.
I like these tweets and every time I see one I literally whisper, "thanks for the reminder" under my breath. Crazy, I know, but let me explain.
You have nothing to lose
"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There's no reason not to follow your heart." — Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement Address.
We should all live with the consciousness that we're not here forever. Staying conscious of the reality of our mortality can offer some incredible perspective.
Do you have some bold career move you want to make but you fear stepping out of your comfort zone? Is there someone you love but are too scared to tell? Do you have a newfound faith that excites you, but you're reluctant to let it out because it goes against everyone's expectation of you?
If you knew with certainty that you were dying tomorrow, would you do any of those things? Well, you know what? You actually might die tomorrow. My take is that if it's truly important to you, then do it today. Or at least start on it today. You don't know if you'll have any other opportunities.
Besides, what do you have to lose? When you're on your deathbed looking back at your life, will it matter that you lost it?
Remember this anytime you feel fear or embarrassment or expectations weighing down on you. Do what's important to you. In the end, that's what will matter when you look back at your life.
Here's how Austin Kleon puts it;
"One day you'll be dead. Most of us prefer to ignore this most basic fact of life, but thinking about our inevitable end has a way of putting everything into perspective." — Austin Kleon, Show your work.
Ask yourself every day, if today was the last day of my life, how would I spend it?
Read the obituaries
There are many stories of people who've had near-death experiences and been completely changed by them. They come out of it with a new appreciation for life. Writer George Saunders, speaking of his near-death experience, said, "For three or four days after that, it was the most beautiful world. To have gotten back in it, you know? And I thought if you could walk around like that all the time, to really have that awareness that it's actually going to end, that's the trick."
Unfortunately, well, fortunately, we won't all have near-death experiences. I don't want one, but I want to have that appreciation for life that people who've had them seem to get. Austin Kleon proposes a solution. He calls it the coward's near-death experience, a way to get the lessons without the danger. He reads obituaries every morning. In his words,
"Obituaries are like near-death experiences for cowards. Reading them is a way for me to think about death while also keeping it at arm's length." — Austin Kleon, Show your work.
Obituaries generally aren't about death, they're about life. They're not about how people died but how they lived. They're the stories of people who truly lived and left a mark. People whose deaths weren't enough to erase their mark from the world. Reading about their lives motivates me to also get up and do something with my life. Thinking about death makes me want to truly live.
Will it matter that you lived?
"Let us prepare our minds as if we'd come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life's books each day. ... The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time." — Seneca
Most people try not to think about death at all because it is uncomfortable, sad, or scary. Because of advances in science and medicine and civilisation, it's easy to forget that death can come for us anytime. But when we face the reality of our mortality, the true value of things becomes clearer.
The stoics used the reality of their mortality to invigorate their lives and to create priority and meaning. They reminded themselves constantly not to waste time on the trivial and vain. I think we can learn a lot from this. All of our time is a gift and we should be grateful for every moment. Death doesn't make life pointless, but purposeful. Life is precious, we shouldn't waste it.
Finally, thinking about the fact that all the people around me will also die someday is a reminder to cherish every moment I have with them. Epictetus says it in a bit of a dark and ghastly way;
It's dark, I know, but the idea he's communicating is that we should be fully present in every moment. We shouldn't rush or allow time with our loved ones to pass by quickly because we aren't paying attention. Slow down, take it all in, be fully present because each moment could be the last you share with them. Take nothing for granted.
Remembering that I will die someday is also a reminder to do better with my life right now while I'm still alive. It pushes me to think about what the measure of my life will be. When I am gone, will my life have meant anything?
Now that we've firmly reminded each other that death is our shared eventual reality. How will you live your life differently? When you are dead, will it have mattered that you lived?
"You are scared of dying—and tell me, is the life you lead really any different than being dead?" — Seneca
Now go out there and live!
That’s all I have for you this week. If you like the newsletter, consider sharing it with others on Twitter, WhatsApp or Facebook. Hit the thumbs up or thumbs down below to let me know what you think.
I hope I’ve given you something to think about this week and I wish you ever-increasing curiosity.
Until next week.
Weight: Get to 75kg by April 28 and 70kg by July
Yet another week where I failed to break that 79kg mark, I'm not worried though because I got here mostly by just changing my diet and I hadn't focused much on exercise. I guess this is the limit of where my current changes can take me. So this week I'll be adding a more intentional exercise routine. Overall, I'm still on track with the goal.
Sleep: Consistently sleep avg. 8 hours per day
Averages this week:
Duration: 6h 43m.
Avg. bedtime: 04:02.
Avg. wake-up time: 10:01.
Business: Start a business in 2022
This week was a slow one. However, I fixed some important issues on Pro-Search that had confounded me for a long time. Despite the slow progress, I still think we can go ahead with all the pre-launch stuff on schedule.