“All a man can do is smile back.”

In Blog, Hustle Podcast by Eric ByrnesLeave a Comment

Just like many people around the world, I was in shock when I heard the news that Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter accident… As the details continued to come in, the story just got more heartbreaking.

Soon after, I got a text from a buddy by the name of John Lukin, who I played baseball with at UCLA:

“The other father, wife, and daughter in the Kobe crash was my baseball coach at Orange Coast College, John Altobelli. I’m shocked bro. He’s why I stayed in baseball after UCLA. He’s why I ended up at Rice. He’s why I met my wife, Missy.  Say a prayer for his family bud. And hug yours.”

As the world mourns the loss of a generational superstar that made a positive impact on so many lives, there were 8 other people lost on that helicopter that seemed to be filled with so much life, promise, and inspiration… 

Memento Mori is a stoic philosophy phrase that is no stranger to the Daily Hustle that basically means we all will die… The stoics were said to meditate on this NOT to be dark and morbid, but rather quite the opposite… The simple recognition of our own impermanence was what the stoics used as a reminder for all of us to LIVE OUR LIVES. 

If there was anybody in the world that seemed immortal, Kobe was it… A 41-year-old, 20 year NBA superstar just entering the 2nd half of his life that already included an Oscar for the film he created called “Dear Basketball.” He was as driven by an athlete and person that we have seen in our generation and his ability to articulate the reasons for his success basically distinguished him as one of the premier motivational speakers we have ever seen in our lifetime. Kobe was the father of four girls and by all accounts, he was just as good of a Dad as he was a basketball player.

There is no underlying message here from this tragedy and no real way to spin it in any sort of positive direction… 9 people with so much life to give gone way too soon and it just plain f*ing sucks…

Just about all of us have dealt with the unimaginable in our lives and as soul-crushing as these things can be, we have no choice but to move on and let it be a reminder that the arrow of death spares nobody.

A couple of years ago I ran across a print at the DailyStoic.Com that is a recreation of an anonymous 1635 German engraving that has a skeleton smiling and aiming a crossbow directly at whoever would be looking at the picture…

In French, the inscription reads…

“Ma flesche (asseure toy) n’espargnera personne
Vous danserez trestout ce balet, que je sonnne.” 


“My arrow (I promise you) spares no one,
You will all dance the ballet of which I sing”

Kowalski’s sick ass loved it so much he even made us a couple of t shirts with the image and quote… 

As the Daily Stoic points out, the print is a representation of Memento Mori in its rawest and most pure form and brings to mind the famous quote in Gladiator that was apparently wrongfully attributed to Marcus Aurelius… But does it really matter who said it? Truth like the below quote is so evident and so powerful that it clearly speaks for itself… 

“Death smiles at every man, and all a man can do is smile back.”

Lets just keep smiling, EB