close up photography of concrete tombstones

Memento Mori

Knowing that I will die is a powerful motivator to live the best life that I can, to not be complacent.

Memento mori (Latin for ‘remember that you [have to] die’) is an artistic or symbolic trope acting as a reminder of the inevitability of death.

Memento Mori on Wikipedia

Change is the only constant, which makes each day interesting. Each day holds the possibility of wonder and great surprises. 

Each day is also unknowable. Trying to control or make things predictable brings significant anguish. Life is anything but predictable. Each time I plan, life reminds me that I can influence, I can walk in a direction, but I’m not in control of what that direction brings.

Remembering that I will 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 what is only truly important.

Steve Jobs

That brings me to focusing on the present moment. I need to be at ease with what is out of my control and trust that each chapter in my life story will unfold as it should.

The transiency of life

This is a reflection that I wrote back in August 2009 while in Japan.

As I made my way to the fireworks show in Osaka yesterday, I was impressed by the amount of people congregating to see the show.  I was with my friends over an hour before the fireworks were scheduled to start, and even then it was very crowded.  I though about just going to my room and resting instead of dealing with massive amounts of people, but I stayed with my friends.

The fireworks started, and they were beautiful.  I have seen fireworks many times before, but it all felt very special.  I was struck by the beauty of each one of them, and how they would soon dissipate, just to be replaced by a different one, and yet another one.  Seeing how the fireworks would change so much one after the other, yet no matter what they would soon dissipate, made me think about life and how beautiful and transient it is.

It is up to us to appreciate the beauty of each day and make the most out of it.  It is up to us to decide what we’ll make out of each day. We get to choose whether to see the fireworks with the rest of the crowd, or whether we retreat and recharge.

Just like the fireworks, our life is transient, and so are the opportunities presented.

We are just but one spark in the fireworks of life, soon to be gone and replaced by others. Every hour we ponder the past or the future is an hour gone where we didn’t live the present.

Tomorrow the sun will rise, just as it did today. Regardless of what I do or achieve, night will come. And one day, it will be the last sunset that I ever enjoy.

The death rate for human beings hovers right around 100 percent, and is expected to remain there for … well, forever. Consider this: if the average life span is 77 years, then that means we only have 77 summers … 77 winters … 77 Christmas mornings … 77 New Years, and that’s it. The Marriage Masters know this all too well. It’s easy to get caught in the day-to-day craziness of life and, in the process, take our spouses for granted. A widow named Betty, married 54 years, says, “Now that he’s gone I wish I hadn’t had so many headaches.”


Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Omar Eduardo


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