Five times a day for the past twelve months, an app on my mobile called WeCroak has been reminding me I’m going to die.
It leaves me without any doubt when it surprises me at unpredictable intervals with the same blunt message – “Don’t forget, you’re going to die.”
The creators of this app have based its reminders on what the citizens of one of the happiest countries in the world, Bhutan, meditate on. They remind themselves of their mortality five times a day.
In The Apology, the Greek philosopher Plato wrote that the oracle at Delphi had pronounced Socrates the wisest man in Athens.
No one was more astonished and disbelieving than Socrates himself. So, he immediately set out to disprove the oracle by finding a wiser man. Here is what Socrates found as he met a few supposedly wise men…
I went to one who had the reputation of wisdom, and observed to him – his name I need not mention; he was a politician whom I selected for examination – and the result was as follows: When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by many, and wiser still by himself; and I went and tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was not really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and heard me.
One of the best books I have read on the pursuit of the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, is George Mallory’s Climbing Everest. George was possibly the first man to summit Everest (nobody knows whether he did it), almost 30 years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay began their ascent.
It was during his third expedition to the Everest that he lost his life, last seen about 800 feet from the summit.
Anyways, all his writings on climbing are collected in Climbing Everest, which started out as letters to his wife Ruth. One of my favourite parts from the book is when George shared his response to one question asked by a journalist about why he would risk his life to attempt to reach the Everest.