Memento Mori – Human mortality as a precipice for motivation


As I’ve become more aware of the world and my place in it, I’ve fully felt and pondered upon my own mortality. The temporary nature of my existence did haunt me at first, However, it has also shifted my perspective on valuing life for what it is. It has helped me connect with gratitude even deeper, gratitude for what currently exists and the potential possibilities to come. With this as a reminder and death as the ultimate motivating perspective in mind, back in the summer of 2020 I made the decision to get the tattoo of the words “memento mori” on my arm, Memento mori is Latin for remember you will die. It represents an ancient practice of reflection on our mortality that goes back to Socrates, who said that the proper practice of philosophy is about remembering death.

This reminder of mortality has motivated me to move beyond my anxiety disorder, it has forced me to look beyond the rubble of sociocultural programming and find the extraordinary in the mundane knowing that everything is temporary, one has an appreciation for the taste of a glass of water.

Even all the people that irritate us, hate us or judge us, matter less than they used to with memento mori in mind. As Carl Sagan says – “every one of us, in the cosmic perspective is precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”

So I share with you in this article, the message of memento mori. If you woke up every day and knew today could potentially be your last, that this is the one chance you will get to experience life as the woman or man you are now, no matter what your afterlife beliefs are, it could serve as the ultimate motivator for yourself to take some risks in life and live it to the fullest and appreciate both the mundane and the grand experiences surrounding us with gratitude. Life can be unfair, but if we are all creating our realities with our own subjective perceptions, we have the power to shift our perceptions to benefit us. In this case, shift the perspective of death as a motivating one.

She writer Neelofer Hilal is a passionate freelance writer, avid traveler, podcaster, futurist, dreamer, and social science enthusiast

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