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Memento Vitae, to Life

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For my son, it was a holiday and the schools were closed, so I decided to take the day off from work and spend it with him, just the two of us. Two sports activities, a movie and two junk food joints later, (the pizza place did not have the “right” drink, namely a thick hot chocolate with marshmallows), and finally we were back home, very tired and very happy.

When asked how his day was, my son said it was “the best day ever!” making the constant worries about what was happening back in the newsroom totally insignificant.

In ancient Rome, parading generals had slaves stand behind them to remind them that even though on that day they were triumphant, the very next day it could all be over. “Memento mori,” the slave would whisper in their ear, “remember, you will die.”

I’m willing to bet that for many of you, work is a major component of your life. Not just the time put in it, but also the thought, energy and the sleepless nights filled with worry that we put in, not to mention how it allows us to measure ourselves against others.

We have a lot of self-worth tied in as equity in our jobs. We go home and take work with us; keeping it alive through dinner, and beyond. But, do we take our family to work with us in the same way every morning?

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Once you hit a certain age, there is no need for anyone to whisper reminders of our mortality into our ear. It’s all too present. In many ways, it rules our lives and is why we need something different whispered into our ear: “memento vitae,” remember life.

Remember life because if you won’t, you’re stuck with the “mori,” Mr. Mori, for you.

Conventional wisdom holds that without work, we are lost. Work frames our day, gives us purpose, defines our social standing and allows us to truly exercise our abilities. Once we retire, we start to implode. “Memento vitae!”

I’m all for work, earning a living, cutting our way in the world and leaving our mark, hopefully contributing to our family’s welfare and a better world. But don’t forget that after everything – diamond prices moving in the wrong direction, heavy regulations, adverse currency rates, the demand (hell, the need) to do more with less – “memento vitae!”

“Memento vitae,” because our kids are growing, time is passing, and we are aging. “Memento vitae,” because we can always enjoy a vacation, take time out for a good book, spend quality time with our spouses, have fun with friends and savor a thick hot chocolate drink with the kids.

“Memento vitae!”

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