MEMENTO MORISeptember 3, 2020
(A piece inspired by the passing of my friend Riley Gale - rest in peace my friend)
A little time has passed since hearing of the passing of a friend of mine, Riley Gale. Most know him as the singer and frontman for Power Trip. I’ve written a short tribute to him about we met (and how it had nothing to do with what either of us did to earn a living despite what we did for a living being the reason our encounter happened in the first place). For me personally, (one of those encounters in life that happen through some form of what I can only call serendipity) it was one that has stuck in my mind in vivid form since. All this thought that has swirled around my head these past 7 days have brought about a specific train of thought and one concerning our mortality and the fragility of this existence.
Please note this is outside of the world events we’re all aware of. This is purely focused on individual mortality. At least, that’s my intention.
Do you ever think about your own mortality? How do you perceive it? Is it negative for you to think about or the opposite? Do you ever think of it and find that the very thought of it is a form of motivation in your own life? I do.. I have for a long time though I must admit it’s something I’ve somewhat forgotten during this lockdown. I’m not sure why and can only arrive at the reasoning that it is our routines were thrown out of whack, for me, my transient lifestyle put on hold and forced to stay in place. I’ve had to correct myself on many an occasion for wishing my life away or fighting against the flow of the stream of acceptance of things being out of our control sometimes. That said, the untimely passing of my friend has stirred these thoughts in me once again.
None of us want a short life, I’m assuming. I want all the time in the world I can muster to find ways of living, creating, traveling, eating, seeing, hearing, feeling, learning, imbibing and experiencing the things in this life I hold dear. I wish you all a long life but at the end of the day we don’t know do how much we have left do we? We don’t know if tomorrow is the day we get hit by a bus for example (or any unimaginable fate that can happen by accident anywhere at anytime). ANYTHING that could snatch this away from us be it an accident, fate (if you believe in that) or through natural causes is a terrifying thought. I perish it.
I realise how privileged I am to be able to sit and ponder this when so many in this world are at this very moment experiencing abject poverty, war, famine, sleeping homeless or gravely ill to name a few of the issues some of our earthly citizens suffer daily. I’m also well aware that this is all relative and we all have our own issues and problems to deal with. None of that is lost on me nor is it something I discount. That said, I’m trying to illustrate that I am grateful for all I have and have had. I may not be rich in monetary terms but in LIFE terms, I’m absolutely loaded. This gratitude extends back to my initial point… being able to ponder my own mortality in this manner is definitely a good thing. Something that I’m afforded through circumstance and having been born into the right passport and always having a choice about specific things in my life.
I know this is all very contemplative and wordy… and I apologise if needs be but I’m also kind of pouring my brain out onto the page right now because I need to. Riley’s passing has stirred the need to not waste time more so than I ever have. There is so much out there, still. Here at home. Look around you. KNOW what I’m talking about. And if you are one of those people who sits and complains about being bored or that you don’t want this or that for dinner tonight take a second too and ponder your mortality and the possibility this could all be snatched away tomorrow and DO SOMETHING that constitutes being ALIVE and utilise it in your existence. Breathe and move forward putting one foot in front of the other. I mean, you can waste it, but why would you? You don’t get time back. It’s gone forever. It’s a waste of time focusing on the past when you should’ve already learned from it and discarded it in the nearest bin. It’s also a waste of time worrying about the “future” which, let’s be honest is nothing more than an idea, a construct. The only way we have a future is by dealing with the present and affecting the present. The future is tomorrow but you will be there soon enough… or will you?
If you’ve gotten this far, I appreciate you taking the time to read it. If I know you, I’ll hopefully see you sometime soon. Until then, look after yourselves and your loved ones.
PS. I wanted to add in one of my favourite “speeches” from Alan Watts (If you don’t know who he I recommend looking him up) that kicked this thought process into gear many years ago…
“So don’t resist change. We are liberated by the very fact of not being able to stop changing. You can’t hang on to yourself. You don’t have to try not to hang on to yourself. It can’t be done, and that is salvation. ‘Memento Mori,’ ‘be mindful of death.’ The most important thing for anyone to realise is that you and every person you see will soon be dead. It sounds so gloomy to us because we have devised a culture fundamentally resisting death. From the first standpoint, the worst is going to happen: you’re all going to die. And don’t just put it off in the back of your mind and say ‘I’ll consider that later.’ It’s the most important thing to consider NOW, because it is the mercy of nature, because it’s going to enable you to let go and not defend yourself all the time, waste all energies in self-defence. There is a wonderful quote that says: ‘I pray that death will not come and find me still unannihilated.’ In other words, man dies happy if there is no one to die which means the ego has disappeared before death caught up to him. But you see, the knowledge of death helps the ego to disappear because it tells you that you can’t hang on. So what we need is to go out with a bang instead of a whimper.” ~Alan Watts