I live my life under the matte black umbrella of Memento Mori.
Translated, it means something equivalent to “remember you will die”. The saying stems from medieval Christianity, and helped sickly peasants feel they should make the most of whatever short lifespan they had.
In all fairness, I don’t share many of the same problems of a Dark Age peasant. I don’t have to worry about catching the Plague of the Week, being accused of witchcraft for washing my hands, or a hokey religion dictating how my country is run- but I have problems too. It’s easier to deal with (ignore) these problems when I have something to remind me that I could die at any moment, making my worldly contributions end.
Reminding myself of my rapidly dwindling mortality is the flame under my ass that makes sure that I don’t sit around playing Super Nintendo all day… or when the days that I do, at least I go to bed with that cozy warm feeling I call self-loathing.
I live my life under a second, far trashier umbrella as well though. It doesn’t have the bleak hope that Memento Mori inspires, but it still helps me lead my life in a better direction. This one, I call Memento Maury.
When in an argument, I have a bad habit of letting out words and insults that may be a liiiiiitle bit too rude. I may be eternally irritated, but I don’t get truly angry often. It’s the moments where I believe I have good reason to let loose that I become a bit of an asshole. I’m not looking to excuse this- I know the inherent problems with it, I’m just explaining where I stand.
Now that I’m out of my younger and more vulnerable years (I just turned 20, it’s Mr. Kid now), I’m making a conscious effort to stop being a completely insufferable prick- but I can’t do that with willpower alone. I need a dreadfully frightful scenario in which I not only look like a total douche, but I look like a douche on national television. A broadcast that would be beamed into the eyes of the type of person who thinks a high decibel count makes their argument stronger.
I’m referring, of course, to The Maury Povich Show.
To those of you whose households make more than $30,000 a year, I’ll give background. Maury is a reality show that is best summed up by some of the subsections currently listed on Wikipedia:
Maury himself resembles that one suburbanite uncle you have, but behind those wire-framed glasses is a bloodlust for drama. The show is cathartic to me- after Maury tells the audience the backstory of why the participants are on the show, each episode devolves into two people screaming at each other, with no regard for anyone else in the room.
And that- that was the kicker I needed. I can’t just be a civil person for civility’s sake, fuck that! The binding resolution that keeps me from calling nuns dirty names is that one day, in the far future, Maury Povich could repeat my remarks on live television.
Could you imagine?
I’d never be able to walk into a Waffle House again without some barely-functioning backwoods product of incest recognizing me!
God forbid I ever had a craving for Golden Corral! What if the man seating me had seen the episode? He might judge me! What would I do without the approval of a man with the same number of teeth and IQ points?
While the serfs of the Victorian age make the most of their lives with the awareness that they may die at any moment, I live my life under the awareness that I may be the victim of my own words on a tabloid talk show. The sheer terror of this has inspired me to hold my tongue on more than one occasion already.
It shocks me to say it, but Maury has made me a better person.
If you think this lifestyle could help you, follow @JeffShutUp on Twitter.