I’ve been reading about Stoicism lately. One of its teachings is the idea of Memento Mori, Latin for “remember that you [have to] die.”
Honestly, this idea scares me, always has. No one likes thinking about their death. But, an interesting thing happens when you do; it brings perspective. Perspective about what is essential both in this moment and in this lifetime. Perspective on the right actions for this moment, this week, and this year. And, an awareness that there are no do-overs with life, this is it.
“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.” Seneca
There is another quote from my reading that stuck out to me.
Someday people will summarize your life in a single sentence. My advice: pick it now!
Maxwell, John C.. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (p. 260). HarperCollins Leadership. Kindle Edition.
A few months ago, my oldest friend’s dad passed away. I feel like I grew up at their house and spent some of the best times of my childhood with their family. I was invited to the small graveside gathering for the family the day after the funeral. It was a cold morning, with just a few gathered to say a final goodbye. Each of us took turns saying a word or two about this man we all loved, and I’ll never forget what his son said. He simply said, “he was a good dad.” It was a beautiful way to sum up a life well lived.
Someone will summarize my life in a single sentence someday. That’s a little terrifying. What do I want that sentence to be? As I look back over everything I’ve worked toward in my life, working with people experiencing homelessness, working in churches and nonprofits, the companies I’ve started, and even this blog/newsletter, there is one common thread. I want to add value to people’s lives in every way I can.
If I have any control over it, my sentence will be, “Adam added value to people’s lives.” And my burning hope is that the value I add to others will inspire them to add value to others in a cycle that will carry on into a time when my name is forgotten.
That’s my sentence; what’s yours?