Carpe Diem + Memento Mori = #yolo?
Updated: Apr 24
Seize the present. Remember you are mortal. Horace’s words are as true today as they have ever been. We are surrounded by encouragement to embrace the first, but as a society we fail to appreciate the latter. Remembrance of death and enjoyment of life are two sides of the same coin. Without both we are left with a superficial understanding of life and invest our time and energy on irrelevant things.
To most of us a constant awareness of our own mortality and the fleetingness of everything in life may seem fatalistic, even nihilistic. However, it is, in itself, very life affirming. We are now experiencing an unprecedented event in human history where we are being reminded daily and on a global scale about the frailty of life and with that we’re seeing a shift in personal and societal priorities and values. We’ve always been told that “money makes the world go ‘round” and now we, as a human collective, are starting to understand why that is and what the alternatives could be.
The capitalist framework that originated in the American Dream and slowly spread across the world is set up for life to eventually be miserable. It disconnected us from the awareness that we could be dead before tomorrow. It is set up for us to view life as predictable – predictable enough that we can plan the next 40 years of it.
You have been subjected to and participated in this as well. You tailor your life to the job you need to be able to afford the stable life that respectable society says you need to be of value. You buy property, because you predict you’ll have the same income for the next 30 years. You buy things on credit for the same reason. You’re told to work hard now so you can finally enjoy life after you stop working, but the sad reality is that for most retirement ends up becoming a long and dreary wait for death. Humans are productive and creative beings and we need a little idleness to tap into that. Most of us get caught up in the rat race in our twenties and then forget how to enjoy life or follow our passion.
Now the rat race has been brutally halted and in the midst of that we’re seeing an incredible boom of human creativity. Not only that, but it’s the motivation behind said creativity - to make someone laugh, to give hope, to nourish human connection and community – that is truly heart-warming. We’re seeing more creativity for the sake of creativity and out of sheer boredom. In this we’re experiencing human expression in its purest form, rather than motivated by profit or celebrity.
Most of us have been conditioned to fit in with the capitalist framework, rather than follow our passion. If there is a time to change that, it’s now, amidst all the chaos. What we thought was stable and worthy of long-term investment has evaporated overnight.
We need more of whatever sends electricity through our bodies. What brings on moments of inspirational fire. Moments that make us feel we’ve touched some form of divine. Moments that make us question whether what we just expressed really came from us or were we merely the vessel for something that had a mind of its own. These moments require creativity and enjoyment and in many cases being completely alone. To find our passion, we need to make peace with death. It’s in the moments of not only awareness, but acceptance of the impermanence of life and everything in it that we unearth the key to our passion and will to live. It’s where we find what makes us fearless. It’s where we find our wild.