Updated: Nov 30, 2021
“Babe, why is there a skull in the bottom of this mug?” my husband asked carefully, peering into the depths of an otherwise unremarkable black coffee cup.
“Because a nun told me to keep one on my desk, but I hate clutter,” I replied blithely, stacking breakfast dishes into the sink.
“Alas, poor Yorick,” he said, sloshing coffee into the cup, covering the skull, quoting Hamlet’s graveyard musing. Any further questions were cut short by our toddler demanding yogurt WITH sprinkles ON THE SIDE. Laughing as he tended to her, I ducked into my office.
It was true, though - a nun DID tell me to keep a skull on my desk. With my penchant for coffee, a grinning skull at the bottom of a coffee mug spoke to me strongly. If I’m living for heaven, I’ll need caffeine to get there.
And truly, it’s inspired by a Daughter of St. Paul, Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble. Her original monthlong Twitter reflections and blog post, Memento Mori: How a skull on your desk will change your life has sparked a book series, a swag line, a NY Times Profile, and a digital revival of the ancient discipline of memento mori.
After encountering her work last year, I found a plain, black coffee cup, with a skull in the bottom, and try to use it each Monday - and most days in November.
This month, we remember in a special way the blessed hope of heaven that awaits each of us. Whether through a visit to a Cemetery, partaking in the plenary indulgence that’s extended through this month, or remembering loved ones in a special way, we remember that we’re called to make a difference here, and live for the life of the world to come.
Here at KPC, November brings a fresh focus to the work we do each day: building collaborative solutions, rather than competitive alternatives, which create connections, increase accountability, and achieve greater results.
Because someday, hopefully far into the future, Katie, and I, and our team will all die. Our expertise will no longer be relevant, ingenuity will be sparked by future thought leaders, and innovative thinking will be happening inside of other people’s skulls.
So every Monday as I sit down to that “First Sip Feeling” with my coffee, I know that my little skull buddy is, for now, obscured by the hot, black coffee - but he’s waiting for me - a fellow of infinite jest - grinning up from the bottom of my cup. And I get to work.