These thought experiments are powerful to get us re-oriented back to death into current awareness and living with spontaneity. In the late 16th and through the 17th century, memento mori rings were made. Later, Puritan tomb stones in the colonial United States frequently depicted winged skulls, skeletons, or angels snuffing out candles. Timepieces were formerly an apt reminder that your time on Earth grows shorter with each passing minute. These include symbols of mortality, whether obvious ones such as skulls or more subtle ones such as a flower losing its petals. In his self-portrait, we see these pursuits represented alongside a typical Puritan memento mori with a skull, suggesting his awareness of imminent death.
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