Today’s Delphic Maxim is think like a mortal. Wait, what the heck? Don’t we already do that because we’re all mortals? And isn’t thinking like a mortal something we want to do less of? My first instinct is to write this one off with a resounding, DUH.
One second reflection (ok, third, fourth, and fifth reflections) I think this is actually asking us to delve more deeply into our humanity, our flesh and blood selves. In fact, I think it ties in beautifully with my Place quarter.
What is a mortal? It’s something that dies.
We live (most of us, especially Western cultures) in societies that abhor death. We want to get as far away from it as possible. We want to look forever 21. We don’t want to age. We shuttle the sick and old off into segregated housing. We have funerals where the dead wear makeup and are buried in silk-lined boxes, as if they will never decay into the pulpy mess that is inevitable. Ancestor veneration is for primitives.
But we all age, we all die. It is inevitable. Part of living, part of being a mortal, is knowing and accepting that some day we will die, ideally after a long and happy life, but perhaps tragically, painfully, or suddenly. Death, like birth, is something we have no control over. Thinking like a mortal, embracing this reality, might help us to live more fully in the moments we’re given to live.
So there’s the carpe diem aspect of thinking like a mortal. But there is another aspect that comes to mind, too. Creatures that live are primal at their core. We are flesh, blood, bone, breath. We eat, sleep, feel, fart, fuck, need, crave, laugh, love. We get dirty. We are part of the elements. We are a jumble of feelings – both the sensation kind and the emotional kind. Thinking like a mortal asks us to embrace these aspects of being alive.
I am not a tool. I am not an automaton. I am not a being that lives best by being on autopilot. I don’t thrive by eating petroleum fillers or animal waste products. I don’t produce my best work by fitting into boxes.
I am a mortal. I need whole foods, sleep, fresh water. I need other people. I need touch and love. I need green space and the singing of birds. I need to see the stars in the darkness. I need to embrace youth and age in their many forms.
Embracing these things is part of thinking like one who lives and dies. Think like a mortal. Embrace the primal.