As I was researching a previous essay that you may have recently read that featured a quote from the comic strip, Pogo, I stumbled upon a treasure trove of wisdom. The author and illustrator, Walt Kelly, was not only belly-laughing funny, but seemed to possess the wisdom of Solomon! His work is remarkably quote-worthy, with pithy, folksy truisms that never fail to give one a chuckle.
One that particularly hit home for me was this one from Porky Pine, one of Kelly’s main characters from the comic strip:
The best break anybody ever gets is in bein’ alive in the first place. An’ you don’t unnerstan’ what a perfect deal it is until you realizes that you ain’t gone be stuck with it forever, either.
I’ve written about my interest in Stoic philosophy before. Porky’s little pearl right there sounded very similar to one of the main precepts of Stoicism, memento mori.
The literal Latin translates as, “remember, you must die”. That sounds much worse than it’s meant to. The meaning of the phrase is much more uplifting than that literal translation.
Essentially, memento mori is a reminder that “the best break anybody ever gets is in bein’ alive in the first place… (and) that you ain’t gone be stuck with it forever, either.”
Friends come and go. Money comes and goes. But time… well, time only goes. It’s fleeting. There’s never enough of it. For me, memento mori is a poignant challenge to gut check how I am using what time I’ve been given? Am I mindful that it’s “the best break anybody ever gets”? Am I living as though I “ain’t gone be stuck with it forever”?
With that in mind, I’ll close with this guidance from the Stoic philosopher emperor, Marcus Aurelius, who wrote…”You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”
Here’s to all our efforts to live our best lives, ‘cause… we “ain’t gone be stuck with it forever, either.” So, “let that determine what you do and say and think.”
Wishing you all an awesome week!