16155 days 8 hours 57 minutes 48 seconds
That’s the time I have left in my life at the moment of writing this post’s heading, as estimated by Death Clock, a Chrome extension, which shows that information every time you open a new browser window.
The extension calculates that based on your average life expectancy and displays it in the form of a simple countdown timer.
I’ve been thinking a lot about death in the last two years. I assume that naturally came as I’ve immersed myself in self-work, with a lot of time spent exploring stoicism and Buddhism. At the same time, I’ve seen people of my age, or younger, lose their lives, or in a position of an exhausting battle to keep them, mostly due to unfortunate diseases.
The concept of deliberately reminding ourselves about death is not new. Memento mori is the medieval Latin Christian theory and practice of reflection on mortality, primarily as a means of considering the vanity of worldly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits. According to the Daily Stoic, in Meditations, Marcus Aurelius wrote “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” That was a personal reminder to continue living a life of virtue now, and not wait. The French painter Philippe de Champaigne expressed a similar sentiment in his painting “Still Life with a Skull,” which showed the three essentials of existence — the tulip (life), the skull (death), and the hourglass (time). The original painting is part of a genre referred to as Vanitas, a form of 17th-century artwork featuring symbols of mortality which encourage reflection on the meaning and fleetingness of life.
The Daily Stoic’s Memento mori medallion is a revival of that idea. And the digital death clock from the beginning of this post is as well. There’s something visceral about seeing an (optimistic!) estimate of your life’s length getting shorter like that with every passing second. It might be depressing, but only if we choose to frame it like that.
Personally, what’s interesting is that reflecting on death makes me more appreciative of the life I have in front of me. It’s a useful strategy when evaluating my options and making difficult decisions. Most of all it’s a fuel which propels me to be braver, kinder and more focused on things which matter most.
16155 days 7 hours 55 minutes 45 seconds.
That’s the optimistic estimate of time I have left in my life at the moment of publishing this post.