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.
“It cures you,” the Bhutanese say. Not just the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, even Stoicism talks about Memento Mori that is the practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.
Now, the thing about meditating on your own mortality is that it doesn’t make life pointless. Instead, knowing that you will die one day creates priority and thinking about it helps you live with a more positive perspective. So you can focus on what’s important.
Like Seneca reminds us to be spendthrifts of time given so little time we have on our hand –
Were all the geniuses of history to focus on this single theme, they could never fully express their bafflement at the darkness of the human mind. No person would give up even an inch of their estate, and the slightest dispute with a neighbor can mean hell to pay; yet we easily let others encroach on our lives — worse, we often pave the way for those who will take it over. No person hands out their money to passersby, but to how many do each of us hand out our lives! We’re tight-fisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers.
He then advises –
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.
Is there better advice than this on death, and on life? If so, it has yet to be written. Keep it close.
And don’t forget, you’re going to die.