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"Memento mori…"​

In searching for answers - easy attempts to aware of complex things...

Photo A Tear in the Dark ny Luca Merli

Photo A Tear in the Dark ny Luca Merli

Life is finite, and, more importantly, most often it is finite suddenly. Old, young, children die, pets die. Relatives, friends, darlings, enemies, and absolute strangers die. They die of old age and expectedly, but they die more of diseases, of hunger, of hostilities, of genocide, of viruses, as a result of accidents.

Everybody dies. We will die too...

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Yes, these are obvious things - everything is mortal, everything has its life span. It cannot be otherwise - birth, life, and death are the basis of the evolutionary cycle, which allows the world to exist and develop –

"The foundation of life, death serves!"

But this is in a global sense, in terms of species, in terms of civilizations, and doesn't work when we fit this logic on ourselves and others. It’s so hard to come to terms with the fact that you and those who are dear will soon (in the system of life of civilizations or species, the briefest moment) be gone.

It is all the more surprising that most of us prefer to live as if life is eternal. Our own life or the life of close ones. We spend our days carelessly (even if these days are harsh), with difficulty directing our thoughts and efforts into the future, especially the dark future, suddenly discovering that this future has already come and difficult to do anything with it.

Hard to “reproach” animals in such an attitude – it's unlikely that they are predicting for long periods - they live in the present and the near future. Their behavior changes when the physiological state changes.

But man?!!

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Possessing excellent forecasting ability, we live as if constantly trying to jump into the last car of a departing train.

In the overwhelming number of situations, we act on the same patterns as animals - we live in the present day (although we like to engage in forecasting, mainly related to fantasies, or experience nostalgia).

  • Yet, we are animals, albeit more developed than the other species. Animals, which, however, in the most zealous way strive to separate their species from the rest of the animal world, often dignify it only in contempt, arrogance, and exploitation.

Yes, we have serious advantages, yes, we have a history of civilizations, but for creatures that have such a developed mind, we strikingly ineptly or improperly use it.

We create problems where there must be solutions, we generate aggression, cruelty, and suffering, instead of creating joy and tranquility.

But this is not limited to - first, we create problems for ourselves, lubberly and incorrectly building our own lives, our relations with others, which ultimately leads to personal tragedies, to distortions in relations with the outside world and, as a result, to global problems - conflicts, wars, neglect of the health and lives of numerous people, thoughtless exploitation of natural resources, destruction of animal populations, plant ranges, etc.

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We live our lives, in fact, in full accordance with the canons of the development of any kind of animal world - pleasure and reproduction - even though many of us hide the true essence of existence behind the walls of high ideas. First of all, from ourselves.

  • The technological and intellectual development of the world, however, has pushed reproduction to a solid background for many of us, but, in any case, pleasure is also the main stimulus for reproduction.

This paradigm of existence makes us spend time and effort (a lot of time and effort) on completely insignificant and often meaningless things. Things that please us and require minimal energy and resources. That is why we often put off important, serious, and complex things for later or simply forget to do them - they require a lot of energy and bring a little pleasure (at least in the short term).

So, plunging with our heads over pleasant trifles and nonsense, and ignoring important things, at some moment we suddenly discover that our life has flashed by, and we have not done anything important and memorable in it. That there were gone close people to whom we didn't say any kind words, didn't show our feelings, didn't correct some injustice.

And then we begin to regret, repent, and suffer. Not all, of course, and not for long, and then, everything backs on track...

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What could be an alternative to such an existence?

The answer is simple - a life filled with meaning, a life in which there is a goal (a large or a chain of smaller ones), perceived, if not permanent, then at least in key moments.

However, as I have already noted, important things, especially if they require operating with a long-term perspective, also require constant large expenditures of internal energy and resources, with a delayed and non-obvious pleasure of their achievement. Therefore, in a completely natural (and probably predominantly unconscious) way, we opt for simple, low-cost, quick-pleasure things.

How to overcome this discrepancy? What can help in filling our life with meaning?

Reflections on this topic lead us to a paradoxical, at first glance contradictory and unacceptable, but, at the same time, the most effective solution. This is death!

  • Yes, I remember what I wrote at the beginning of the article - that it is difficult for us to accept the likelihood of ceasing to exist, ours and our loved ones, and we strive to distance ourselves as much as possible not only from the fact but also from any thoughts about death.

Rather, not death itself, but the realization that life can truly end, and at any moment.

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Of course, life with a constant thought about the finiteness of existence, about a possible imminent death, yours, or your darlings, in itself can become hell.

It is no accident that we (like most animals) cannot be in a state of experiencing tragedy for a long time - this can literally kill us.

Death, or an event comparable in emotional response, grief, has extremely important, evolutionary significance for humans and, probably, for higher animals (at least). The experience of such an event is powerful, flowing from a psychological state into a physical one, with real pain, the impact affecting the entire body. A catharsis, that, to a greater or lesser extent, is experienced by each of us and that can lead us to a new level of development or, at least, to a rethinking of being...

What happens, unfortunately, not so common, and the reason is in what, that saves our lives also - the short duration of such an impact.

A rare organism can exist for a very long time under conditions of constant stress, even with the adaptive abilities that all living beings have, including humans. Sooner or later, changes occur in the body under the influence of stressors will lead to diseases and possible death.

But no one can live for a long time under such powerful stress as the death of a loved one (we also know many examples from the animal world when animals cannot reconcile with the loss of a partner and die themselves), therefore, the body includes a protective mechanism in the form of forgetting, reducing severity sensations, distortions of perception, etc.

  • This is especially evident in situations where people are faced with mass deaths, being at the epicenter of events that are causing this - wars, epidemics, hunger, catastrophes.

After some time, everything becomes simpler and easier. Although memory does not let to forget completely, allowing us to experience the same events from time to time again, however, in a much lighter form (that also makes sense).

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So, what's the solution?

Probably in balance - it is foolish and irresponsible to live a carefree life, and impossible in the constant feeling of probably near and inevitable death.

But death cannot be dispensed with - death alone is the real and, in fact, the only incentive. Injuries, illnesses, financial and personal difficulties, no matter how severe they are, leave a chance. Death leaves no one!

"Look in the face of Death - your future, there you will see..."

So, death should always be present in our perception of life, not in the foreground, but also not in the "dusty closets" of consciousness.

You can try to live with a clear understanding of the likelihood that life (yours or your loved ones) can end abruptly and soon, and therefore you should have time to fill it with meaning.

  • We are not talking about fear or doom, just about understanding the finiteness of life, about the assumption that circumstances may arise which lead to a sudden reduction in its term, and, to a certain extent, about readiness for this.

The priority of actions should be introduced into your life, allowing you to evaluate (albeit superficially) the importance of one or another action in a more global perspective and make the appropriate choice.

The choice is in favor of those deeds, thoughts, and aspirations that, in fact, have value in the perspective of all life, and are not inspired by the moment and desire (what, however, also should not be completely ignored, since getting pleasure is extremely important for all of us, and possibly for all living beings in general).

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In other words, we should not live our lives in vain, but we cannot live in constant fear of death. That's the balance to keep.

How can this be achieved?

Of course, this task is not simple, and for many, it can become completely impossible. However, the mere assumption of the reality of death in our lives will already create the prerequisites for the transformation of the view of life, a different perception of reality, and the emergence of a system of priorities.

But probably we should go further.

  • In general, it should be noted that the described (and desired) attitude towards life is nothing more than an element of the process of personal development, and, possibly, its ultimate goal.

The main obstacles in this way, subjectivity and momentary perception of life. They need to be replaced/transformed with objectivity and global perception.

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All events taking place with us, around us, in our imagination, are evaluated by us exclusively through the prism of subjective perception of the world. This does not make such events less significant, but the significance is personal, our personal. Tragedies, dramas, misfortunes (unless, of course, they affect a large part of the world's population) are exclusively personified in nature - they have content and acuteness only for specific people.

The death of loved ones (or your own, in the future) is perceived as an act of supreme injustice on the part of fate, God, or the universe. Perhaps this is true, but only for you and those who are personally involved in relationships with you. For the rest of the world, it doesn't matter.

"You die, someone important to you, or important to many, and so what? The world does not stop and will not stop, but most of it, even notice, will not..."

Objectivity, the concept is very relative. Probably, with all our efforts, we will always remain subjective. However (and this may be the point), we are able to become more objective concerning important things, that, of course, will affect our intentions and actions. And through them all over the world.

  • In any case, this process is quite long and requires maximum awareness and immersion in the topic.

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What are the tools that allow us to develop an objective outlook on life?

First, as I noted earlier, this is honesty. Honesty about oneself, others, and the world around. It can become fertile soil on which everything else will grow. Most importantly, responsibility.

Second. The closest attention should be paid to such psycho-philosophical teachings as Stoicism and Buddhism since, in addition to philosophical ideas, they also contain practical methods.

Third, directly related to the second point - meditation, breathing practices, and regular physical exercises, as elements of the system of establishing control (even if relative) over your mind and body.

Fourth, everything that brings new knowledge and skills since this is a development path.

There is no certainty that this will be a simple and enjoyable path, rather, the opposite. Development is never easy and fast, except in fairy tales. It is given by blood, sweat, deprivation, maybe someone's death, regardless of our desire. It's never clear to understand the necessary effort, time, and potential benefits…

"But it is worth it… not it, is it?"

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What can all this give us?

For many, absolutely nothing, because the meaning of their lives is meaningless. Their behavior cannot be changed by anything, no ideas, no arguments, no joys, drama and tragedy, even death. Their fate is to spend their whole lives "in a dark room, a few inches from the electric switch, its purpose and capabilities not knowing..."

I hope I'm wrong.

This article (like everyone else) for those who are looking and want to find answers to complex questions, understanding the meaning of life, the need and purpose of personal transformation.

  • I am not pretending to the completeness of the information presented or its exclusivity - if it makes you think or creates a spark of enlightenment in at least someone, then the efforts are not in vain.

This article and tips for those who don't want at one perfect (?!!) day look in the mirror and aware that he or she was late and the train left…

"That you must die, remember!"

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This article is the result of my deeply subjective thoughts, observations of the environment and my inner world, the attempts to establish simple cause-effect relationships, and create an understandable model of the world. Your right to perceive these ideas and draw your own conclusions, or completely ignore them and go your own way.

"May the force be with you!"

© 2020 Smartus Yodus

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