“Don’t forget you’re going to die.”
Five times a day, that message shows up on my cell phone.
It isn’t a threat.
It’s a promise.
One that will come true for every single one of us.
Death has my name. Yours, too.
My brother Matt recently told me about the app WeCroak, so I bought it for 99 cents. WeCroak reminds you five times a day that you’re going to die. That’s all it does.
Co-founder New York publicist Hansa Bergwall described it this way: “It’s a passion project and mindfulness tool that’s hit a chord around the world because of death’s power to ground us in what’s real.”
He and Ian Thomas, an app creator, launched WeCroak in 2017.
It encourages you to “wake up to the truth about death, live immediately, enjoy life more and find ways to hone our habits and ourselves.”
Not a bad way to launch a new year, which can start on Rosh Hashanah, or Jan. 1 or today at noon.
A Bhutanese folk saying inspired their movement: “To be a happy person, one must contemplate death five times daily.” I respect the Bhutanese, so five times a day, my screen goes black and white words show up to tell me, “Don’t forget, you are going to die.”
It’s actually not as morbid as you think, but then again, I once picked up bodies for a funeral home, so my version of morbid might not match yours.
The WeCroak website reads: “Our invitations come at random times and at any moment, just like death.” Open the app and you find a quote about death from a poet, philosopher or famous person. Then you’re supposed to take a moment to contemplate, breathe, meditate on your mortality then let go of what doesn’t matter and honor what does.
That’s it. No bios on the quote writer. No ads. No links. It does just one thing: Remind you that you are going to die. The point is to get the reminder, then get off your phone and sink deeper into the present moment, not into Facebook or Twitter or email.
It’s kind of like Robin Williams whispering in your ear, “Carpe diem!” And the fact Williams is gone makes it even more powerful.
Some of the quotes are on the mystical side: “Many have died; you also will die. The drum of death is being beaten. The world has fallen in love with a dream. Only the sayings of the wise will remain.” – Kabir
Or blunt, like Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “People are born soft and weak. They die hard and stiff.”
Or gentle: “Death is the sound of distant thunder at a picnic.” – W.H. Auden
Gloomy. Uplifting. Irreverent. Death is all that and more. No matter the mood, each quote is a good reminder to put your phone down and live the life that’s right in front of you.
For 99 cents, I’m trying it out, even though I don’t need a lot of help contemplating death. The funeral home job put me face to face with death. And surviving breast cancer gave me a great gift: I wake up every day with scars on my chest where my breasts used to be. They remind me to live the hell out of this day.
Still, the app has helped turbo charge my living.
Last Saturday, I was exhausted after hosting the three grandkids for a sleepover, going to two of their soccer games, playing dolls, Chinese checkers and losing Scrabble when their parents invited me to drive an hour south to the Ravenna Balloon A-Fair at sunset. More fun with the kids or go home and relax in front of the TV?
So I squeezed into the way back of their van, tucked my knees into the seat in front of me, talked to Asher, 10, about the Cleveland Indians’ wild card options, held hands with River, 6, and giggled with Ainsley, 8. We saw hot air balloons soar, ate funnel cakes and raced around under the stars. I got to lift my grandson into a giant tree to climb, piggyback the youngest back to the van and tuck my jacket under the head of her sleepy sister on the ride home.
That night I slept the sleep of the dead, and smiled when I woke to another reminder:
“Don’t forget, you’re going to die.”
Read Regina Brett online at bit.ly/ColumbusJNewsReginaBrett. Connect with her on Facebook at ReginaBrettFans. 2019 Ohio SPJ Best Columnist.