The Daily Stoic

The Great Equalizer

January 10, 2019
Show Notes

The author Michael Malice has a running gag: whenever a celebrity dies he posts a meme that says RIP but is a photo of a similar looking but a very different (and very alive) celebrity. It’s partly a commentary on how easily fake news spreads but it’s also an ironic dismissal of all that person has accomplished. It says: You’re dead now and we’re already forgetting your legacy. It says: You’re dead and we think it’s pretty funny. 

Sure, there is a trollishness to that and it’s probably definition of the expression “Too Soon” but there is also truth and Stoicism in it. Marcus Aurelius liked to remind himself that Alexander the Great and the man’s mule driver are buried in the same ground. Shakespeare was equally impious. 

To what base uses we may return, Horatio. Why 

may not imagination trace the noble dust of 

Alexander till he find it stopping a bunghole?

The point is that death is not only inevitable but it is a great and merciless equalizer. It doesn’t matter how much money you pile up, how many territories you conquer, how many people know (or tremble at) your name—in the end you will die. Not only that, but some people will laugh! They will think your death is hilarious or even deserved. 

That should humble you. It should serve as a Memento Mori for you. It should motivate you to live while you still can and not take any of it too seriously. Because it isn’t that serious. In fact, it’s kind of funny. 


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