On The Shortness Of Life

I’m currently reading a book called ‘On the Shortness of Life’ by Seneca; a Roman stoic philosopher from the stone-age (haha). The principle is straightforward and quite relevant to the blog’s theme; remember that you will die (Memento Mori).

Life is short. As part of nature, we have one inevitable experience in common; to pass on. It’s easy to forget how short-lived and temporary we are. We’re always chasing tomorrow and planning like we’ve got infinite days ahead of us. Let’s really look at how time, wisdom, service and purpose play a role in our understanding of death (and life I suppose).

Time

I keep coming back to the concept of time. It’s seriously abstract and most of us have just ignored that fact. What does experiencing ‘an hour’ even mean? Even things like time zones and losing time whilst travelling (on a plane for example). It really does boggle the mind when you sit and think about it.

What we ultimately need to understand is that time is our most precious resource. We tend to prioritize things like wealth and socializing, over time. We behave as if we drew from an infinite supply. Each of us has a very specific time, location and way in which we’re going to pass on. There’s no escaping that for sure.

Life is kind of like playing 30 seconds. As soon as you’re born, the hourglass is turned over and you have to get as much done before your time is up. Meditate on how often you waste your time over trivial matters and having mundane conversations.

What if you treated everyday as if it were your last? How different would your current trajectory look?

Wisdom

There’s a lot of wisdom to gain from contemplating your own death. I’ve spoken about this before, but it’s a reminder we need all the time. Wisdom to me, is just learning from your own mistakes and making improvements based on that.

We’ve all made several mistakes in our lifetime. We’re going to make a lot more in the near future. The point is to accept that you’re imperfect and temporary. That you’re on a journey to continuous learning. That you’re just a student of life. There’s no such thing as perfection, no matter how hard you strive for it.

Keeping that in mind, I want you to further think about your limiting beliefs and what’s preventing you from being vulnerably honest with those you care about.

Here’s a good question to ask yourself if you’re ever feeling embarrassed or ashamed about a mistake you’ve made:
Is this going to matter in a year? In 5 years? In 10 years?

Service

We’re here to help each other. We’ve come this far as a species because of collaboration. Because of education. Because of the way we’ve looked after each other. The best way to leave your mark on the world is through service.

This can come in any form that seems fit to you. It can be through serving your parents, assisting with charity events, teaching and sharing your knowledge, looking after the elderly, visiting the sick or just being kind to strangers that you meet. There’s no limit or set way of contributing.

Do what makes you feel good whilst assisting others in any way possible. You’ll notice what a tremendous effect that will have on your sense of purpose.

Purpose

Have you ever sat down to consider the legacy you’d like to leave behind? The impact you want to make on the world? We’re not here by chance or coincidence. Everything is purposeful, it’s all Divine Wisdom.

Service and purpose go hand-in-hand. They both feed into each other. The more you contribute, the more you feel alive, the more you develop your sense of purpose. It’s not necessarily a ‘quest’. You don’t have to search for purpose. You just live it by doing the best that you can, in everything you experience.

To try and make sense of these concepts, I’ve got an interesting way to think about it.

Imagine yourself on your death bed. You’re old, you’re weak and you’re very much dependent on others. What was your biggest regret? What was something you’ve always wanted to pursue? What was the biggest waste of your time? What drained your energy? What made you energized?

Who would you spend more time on? Who would you spend less time with? What would you appreciate and cherish more if you could? What would you do differently?

Honestly, we’re not that far off from being on our death beds. We take nothing with us when go down to our grave. Keep that in mind and reflect on these important questions. Make the most of the time that you have left. Always remember, now is all you have.

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