Memento Mori.

“Alexander the Great and his mule driver both died. The same thing happened to both.”

-Marcus Aurelius

It’s worth bearing in mind that the same fate awaits us all: prince or pauper, billionaire or bum – or in this case the last great emperor of Rome and his mule driver.

The idea of death as the great leveller is one of the most prominent in Stoic philosophy. Rather than being morbid, it’s practical: our time is fleeting, so let’s not use it idly.

One of my greatest shortcomings is playing it safe – worrying, planning, talking myself out of ‘risky’ choices – often settling for the ‘secure’ option.

I’m all too aware that a lifetime of those sort of safe decisions carries more risk in and of itself than any of those choices individually. I can’t stomach the idea of not doing as much as I can. So, I’ve got to make an effort to take more risks.

I think we all should. Why?

Because life is inherently risky. So, when the safe option isn’t really safe at all – why hedge your bets? As Bukowski said, if you’re going to go – go all the way.


  1. So true. Yet there is a balance to be sought between risk and safety. Too much risk can be foolhardy. Incidentally, did you ever come across Luke Reinhart’s book The Dice Man (well before your time, I think) – a quite amusing slant on risk, letting the dice make your choices. No, I’m not recommending that approach!

    Liked by 1 person

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