“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do, say and think.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Memento Mori is an ancient practice of reflecting on our own mortality. Reflections manifested in all art forms–paintings (like the image above), songs, writings (the Stoics and others), etc….even Walt Disney made his own personal Memento Mori cartoon.
Rather than scare us, Memento Mori should free us. It should free us into taking that leap. Making that decision. Producing that play.
If you know your days are numbered, why not do it? What do you have to lose? What’s stopping you?
Tom Hanks Golden Globes speech should be required viewing for any artist. Especially actors. Two big takeaways…be on time and come prepared with strong choices.
Reminded me of a workshop I was in many years ago. Taught by a very famous, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright. (Bonus points if you can guess who.)
It’s day one. Playwright’s on stage and thirty seconds in to the introduction…Door opens. (It’s in the back of the house.)
Enter an attendee/aspiring actor. Playwright stops, mid sentence. Addresses the person.
“Me?”, the aspirant points to himself.
“Yes. You. Please don’t sit down. Turn around. Go back the way you came in. See the young ladies at the registration desk. They will give you a full refund on your tuition.”
The actor just stands there. Stunned. As are the rest of the two hundred-plus audience members.
Long, uncomfortable silence.
Finally, mercifully the playwright breaks it. “If you learn nothing else in this workshop, you will learn to be prompt. That’s the first lesson and the most important lesson I can teach you. Thank you. Good luck.”
Yep. That’s what Shawn Askinoise found. I highly encourage you to check out his book and his chocolate.
Shawn was a super successful defense attorney living in Springfield, Missouri. He loved his job. Then suddenly in his late forties, he didn’t. He prayed this simple, silent prayer, every day for for five years, “Dear God, please give me something else to do.”
Out of nowhere, with no prior experience or interest, he discovered he wanted to make chocolate. But not just any chocolate. World class, artisanal chocolate sourced exclusively through direct trade from farmers in the poorest countries.
As a result of following his heart, Shawn’s done incredible things…He built a family business. One that’s world class, highly ethical and radically transparent. He pays cacao farmers the highest wages in the industry. By far. He shares profits with them. Has helped them start their own businesses. He’s even started a “Chocolate University” that has trained, for free, thousands of underprivileged children, the principles of ethical business management and chocolate making.
He found the formula. Did meaningful work. Built meaningful community. And he’s the happiest he’s ever been in his life.