There’s a haunting series of the last known photos of celebrities. You can see Prince getting in an SUV hours before he overdosed on fentanyl in an elevator. You can see Michael Jackson rehearsing for a tour he would never go on. You can see John Lennon signing an autograph for the fan that murdered him. You can see Marilyn Monroe posing happily with a friend just days before her death. You can see Anton Yelchin’s last photos smiling at a premiere two months before he was crushed by a car in his own driveway.
As it was written in Gilgamesh:
“Man is snapped off like a reed in the canebrake!
The comely young man, the pretty young woman—
All too soon in their prime Death abducts them!”
It is true for famous people. It is true for the ordinary. It’s even true for animals. Here is a 44 year old white rhino at a zoo in Kenya that is the last of his species. He is the end of the line waiting for the end of the line.
We will all be snapped off. Almost every single person will have a last photograph. And likely they will not know that it was their last. And neither will the photographer. Even when our end is slow and peaceful…it’s still sudden. It’s binary. One moment you’re alive, posing for a photo, the next you’re not—and never will be again.
The point is: Memento mori. Live while you can. Do what you can while you can.
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