As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash yesterday. A stunning loss of life that included a worldwide legend known to all by just his first name. He was just 41 years old, and his daughter 13.
As with any high-profile death, especially when the deceased is so young, I find it a perfect reminder to reflect on a Stoic motto: Memento Mori. This roughly means ‘remember that you shall die’. One day I’m going to die. I accept and embrace that. But a little bit harder to accept is the fact that my loved ones too will die one day. However, this too one a person should come to accept, and the Stoics have advice for this as well.
In his writings, the Stoic emperor Marcus Aurelius reminded himself that when he puts his children to bed, he should do so knowing that in the morning he may awake to find them dead, and I think that’s good advice for all of us. It’s not meant to be defeatist, Nihilistic, or hopeless, but to urge you to embrace every moment of life. You don’t know if you have tomorrow, so embrace today, love your loved ones like you’re not sure you’ll see them again. In this way, if the day indeed comes that they are taken from you, the blow will land softer against the armor of their memories.
I don’t know Kobe personally, or any of the others that were on that helicopter, but I hope they practiced this. I hope they embraced the present because Death came for them that day, as it does for us all.