“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” - Marcus Aurelius
Maybe I’ve watched too many movies, but sometimes I imagine there’s a sniper who has their sights zoomed in on me. For what reason? I have no idea. Farfetched? Sure. Technically possible? Yes.
Its scant likelihood keeps me from ever being too preoccupied with the idea, but it does remind me that I could perish at any time. Any car ride, any day, any moment. This consistent reminder allows me to bring extra intentionality and care to living my best life.
Whatever you care about, do it as often as you can and as best as you can. Whoever you love, tell them and show them you love them. Because as Aurelius reminds us, we could leave life right now.
There are times where things go well and this reminder of death isn’t as present. That’s okay. Remembering death need not always be present, but it’s easy to take life for granted when we forget this inevitability.
On Sunday I heard the news of Kobe, his Daughter, and seven others dying unexpectedly.
Kobe’s death hit me harder than expected. Growing up he was my favorite player aside from my favorite Milwaukee Bucks. I enjoyed his game even though he loved to crush my team. I always looked forward to making the argument for Kobe as being better than Lebron to my Lebron-loving friends. I didn’t realize it when I was younger, but he was someone who instilled in me that practice, hard work, and the fundamentals are the keys to being successful in whatever you seek.
It’s easy to look at someone who is among the best and attribute their success to their innate skill or talent. Was Kobe physically gifted? Sure. Does everyone born with the same gifts make it to the NBA? No. Does everyone born with his skill become a Top Ten player of all time? No.
Kobe’s dedication and hard work consistently inspired me and millions of others to improve and become their best. So what would Kobe want from us now?
Our best. It is what he always wanted. From himself and from others.
Though I can’t say specifically what he would ask of us, I imagine he would ask us to do these three things:
1. Work Hard
"I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses." - Kobe Bryant
If you value your goal, you need to show up and do the work. You’re going to have to work harder than every single person around you if you desire to be great at your chosen vocation.
2. Value the Now
“It's different from being 21 and you think there's endless amount of opportunities. At 33, the ending is much, much closer.” - Kobe Bryant
Kobe is almost certainly talking about his basketball career, but the message rings true in life as well. The end could be much closer than we think. Memento Mori, remember death.
3. Inspire and Impact Others
"The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do." - Kobe Bryant
Kobe’s impact is obvious. Oddly enough, I’m reminded of a quote from Macklemore’s “Glorious.”
I heard you die twice, once when they bury you in the grave. And the second time is the last time that somebody mentions your name.
Kobe will live on forever. If our goal is to inspire and impact others, we’ll have to remember to work hard and value the now.
Though this is a difficult time for many of us, let’s use this tragedy as a reminder to live fully.