Day 29. Tuesday, April 2

#DeadGoodApril #MoM

Kathryn Koromilas
Dead Good Life
Published in
3 min readApr 2, 2019

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Photo by VanveenJF on Unsplash #DeadGoodApril #MoM
Listen to me read my story.

The true disciple of philosophy pursues death and dying. Said Socrates, according to Phaedo. And, of course, Plato.

I have spent the better part of the last two hours pursuing death and dying. No, I’m not actively pursuing dying — there’s no suicide attempt in the works — but I am reflecting on death in some daydreamy, abstract way.

And that is, kind of, all I’m doing. Actually, it is all I’m doing.

According to the Stoics, a daily dose of death contemplation should quite promptly stimulate us into activity and clarify what is important and good and essential so that we can do just what we ought to do. I say “ought” because I am talking about what we ought to do morally, you know, to live good lives.

So, I’m here, contemplating death, and feeling that there are some things I ought to be doing and some things I oughtn’t to be doing.

I ought to live a disciplined, moderate, and philosophical life.

I ought to be a more available and attentive wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, writer, teacher, mentor, and citizen of the world.

I oughtn’t to spend time drifting on social media — I am doing a social media reduce-and-replace challenge, after all! In Book 2.2 of his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius, instructs himself — in a voice that sounds a little more like mine — thus:

Forget your books, and magazines, and social media. Stop being distracted! It’s not allowed!

So, I log out of Facebook and browse the internet for philosophical essays on death, instead.

In How Much Time Do I Have Left? Nigel Warburton also contemplates death and his social media habit.

When he contemplates his death and how much time he has left, he does get this “nagging feeling” that he should “get focused, knuckle down, finally decide what [he] want[s] to do with what remains of [his] life and then do it with ruthless efficiency before it is too late.”

But, just like me, Warburton finds himself daydreaming. (Or playing his guitar for hours; or reading some random thing that has nothing to do with the work he’s supposed to be doing.)

And, just like me, he finds that the contemplation of death has itself somehow distracted him from what he feels he should have done. In fact, this whole act of “reflecting on time’s wingèd chariot drawing near shifts [him] to a different state of mind,” a state of mind where “getting things done” seems less and less important than before.

I’m in that state of mind, too.

Has my contemplating death in this dreamy, abstract sort of way just become another distraction? Am I in danger of becoming distracted by the very act — death contemplation — which I have summoned to save me from my social-media distraction?

Marcus Aurelius catches himself out and makes a note (to himself in Book 2.10 of the Meditations) for me to read 2,000 years later.

You are so easily distracted, aren’t you? Stop right there and focus on learning some new, good thing.

Okay, I am! I am doing this new death contemplation thing.

Hold on. Don’t go too far with this new thing either. It could just be another distraction.

I wonder if Nigel Warburton has recently read this note.

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Kathryn Koromilas
Dead Good Life

Therapeutic writing, writing for transformation, Stoic journaling.