In 2020, I’ve learned that the friends I thought were optimists are really just the result of a life comprised with sequentially advantageous circumstances. Kind of like how, more often than not, the Christians in your life tend to be good-looking, while the atheists in your life tend to… well, not. It’s easy to believe in God when you’ve been “blessed”. Likewise, it’s easy to be an optimist when everything is awesome.
But everything’s not awesome now. In fact, things generally suck. We’re in a pandemic. The rich keep getting richer and the poor poorer. There’s widespread “civil unrest”, which is a phrase that historically comes about when shit is about to go down. There’s a lot more to complain about depending on your political leanings, so feel free to fill in the rest. Things are bad and will most likely keep getting worse before they get better.
If you — like me — have been clinically depressed for half of your life but have learned how to cope with the Big Sad, you probably find these newly-disenfranchised complainers annoying. Yes, everything is terrible, but it has always been terrible. Life is pain; existence is suffering. Stop acting like this is new.
To many people, the phrase “memento mori” (Latin for “remember you must die”) is too much. Thinking about their inevitable death is overwhelming, much like the feelings so many people are experiencing this year. I think that’s why it’s more important than ever to chew on those feelings until you get past them and to the point of action. Memento mori. Now what?
So many of us walk around with a false sense of security that today will be like tomorrow and tomorrow like the day after that. We do this because it’s generally true. But sometimes anomalies happen — car accidents, aneurysms, sinkholes, etc. People die every day. Some just go to sleep and never wake up. There’s no reason you or I can’t be one of them.
When you think about this and think about it often, the idea isn’t that your death’s eventuality should paralyze you with fear. Familiarity with your death should provide comfort and guidance to your direction in life. You are going to die. Are you okay with that?
If you died tomorrow, would you be proud of what you did today? If you went to sleep tonight and didn’t wake up, could you say you spent your life trying to make other people’s lives better?
Things are bad right now, but they won’t be forever. Remember your death and use it as motivation to make things better.