The meaning of Memento Mori is remembering that one will die. As morose as this sounds… in American culture we must remember that we are the Kings and Queens of denying that death will ever occur. In American culture, there is a common vibe of immortality as we hurry along in the rat race of daily living. We are so wrapped up with the idea of minute details of every single day that we seldom remember that our very own clocks themselves are ticking down to the deadline of passing on to another realm or into complete darkness (depending on your beliefs).
I remember one of my grandfather’s saying in the end of his days that he watched the obituary section of the newspaper to see which friends of his had died. I remember another grandfather who was widowed two times over saying that he didn’t want anything to do with the women in his retirement community after two of his own wives had passed. The first my grandmother of a sudden loss. The second wife of cancer. He called the single women looking for love, “black widows”, ready to feast on any single male leftover. I would say that aging is truly for the brave. I can also safely say that I share the sentiment of my grandfather. I mean honestly after two partners dying, do you really want someone trying to invade your space just because they don’t want to live alone? I’m sure that it was all in innocence of just wanting love. However, I can also commiserate with my grandfather in not wanting to deal with another spouse dying. It is a lot to process after all.
Last night I watched, “The Pale Blue Eye”, on Netflix. I watched as Edgar Allan Poe brought his date to the cemetery. Finding this scene very relatable… I too have brought a few dates in my past to a cemetery. It was poetically syrupy sweet with a certain type of true charm. All these people have lived notable lives whether they be in pop culture or not lay silent all around you. There is something incredibly romantic about being among people of the past who have lived lives and have a multitude of stories to tell. Yet these same people are completely silent until you decide to look them up and open your eyes and ears to their lost worlds. There is so much potential there in both instances. The other thing about cemetery grounds is that they are alwaysbeautiful, and the trees tend to be the size of those in old growth forests. It is also usually so quiet that you can hear your own thoughts. One of my favorite places to sit and think about things next to oceanside or the middle of the desert.
When I go to the cemetery on my own, I look at what everyone else has done. I look at their stories, and I think about what it is that my story is going to be? What is the legacy that I want to leave behind? For instance, I would like to be a poet laureate. I would like to be a respected person of society. I would like to be remembered. I think everyone would like to be remembered. Everyone likes to feel important. Everyone likes to feel included.
On Sunday’s mornings I peruse through the obituaries in the newspaper just as one of my grandfathers did. Because this is when everyone puts out the stories out of their loved ones. This is when the real inspiration comes. Whether it is someone who was once famous or just an average Joe. Everybody has a story.There is something about everyone’s life that is worth telling a story about. As human beings we learn from each other. I also like to see the human compassion and kindness towards others. It is enough compassion and kindness to care about making sure their story is told.
Aeschylus once said, “Call no man happy till he is dead”.
Now granted that I think I’m probably halfway through this life of my own… unless I live until 118 years old like Sister Andre of Toulin, France? If I live as long as she did than I may have some extra time to go? But if I live the average life span of sometime in my 80’s then by now and about halfway through… I have learned that there are trials and tribulations along with successes and happiness through everyone’s life. It is also true that many artists will continue to put out work after work after work outand nothing will gain popularity until after they are long gone from this world. The other thing to remember is that the general population seems to be uninterested most people’s work until they are dead and unable to produce more of their work. Case and point are Vincent van Gogh, Otis Redding, Franz Kafka, and Edgar Allan Poe to name a few. It is a commonality of supply and demand. When the supply is limited, the demand increases.The other strange thing about this is that nobody knows when it will happen?! When will the popularity hit? Nobody knows!
Then there is the priestess Edheduanna who was the earliest known author, largely contested by some nay sayers who state that Homer is actually the first documented writer of the all-time. Edheduanna was a favored priestess and well-known author for many years until society decided that women were of a lower consort and that men must dominate everything. So… while you could become noticeable, with time the tides may change and you may sink well under the depths of any notice until someone decides to dig your work up again. One just never knows how the tides will favor them or lack thereof.
With both notions I am okay with the fact that I need to keep a day job, while I continue to create on the sidelines. Every artist does no matter what medium you express through. One common denominator that I see with many people society that I am reminded of every time I walk into a cemetery or ready through the obituaries though is that our creative process and/or goals in general are often put on hold for the smaller details of life. The things that we wish that we would have done, we never do. Because there is some minute detail of what we need to do in the current moment that is never aligned with who we truly are. It is never aligned with what we really want to do in the present moment. We need to put in some extra time for our boss. We need to scroll through the Internet to decompress after being overworked and underpaid by the said boss. We need to look at what diet and/or exercise is most favorable during the present time. We need to read clickbait on the Internet. We get wrapped up in the spin cycle rat race of work, gossip, drama, media, etcetera, etcetera. Years and years pass. Then ten, twenty, thirty years down… we realize that we have spent our days consuming media, living by the rules of a boss, and living our lives based on media and other people’s lives in general telling us what to do and how to do it. We realize that we have shouldered our goals, ideas, and creativity until it’s almost too late to do what we really wanted to do all along.
So, I would say that my evening thoughts for today is that we need to remember that we are on a limited time contract on this planet. We are not going to be here forever. We are meant to share our work. Whether it is artwork by painting, printing, sculpting, or molding. Whether it is via writing or in song or in speech. It doesn’t matter if we become popular or not. What matters is that we are creating and are alive in the present moment. The most important part is to remember that you are just as important as anybody else is, and that you also have a story to tell. The right people will receive your work in the right timing. What media you decide to use to express yourself is up to you. Everyone has a voice that needs to be heard. Most importantly… do not stay silent. Do not let large corporations, marketing, clickbait, and the paparazzi win. These are inauthentic sources of inspiration. Go for real people. Go straight to the source.
K. K. Powell