Kyle Makes You Ponder Your Own Mortality

Well, it’s officially October, which means that Halloween is less than a month away. Skulls, skeletons, and ghouls are starting to pop up in people’s yards and on their porches, which hopefully makes today’s post a little less creepy.

A few weeks back I was out in the woods when I found a completely-intact possum skeleton just laying on the ground. Apparently this thing had passed on due to old age or disease or high cholesterol or something, and then time and nature did to his body what time and nature do, and voila! A skeleton.

Possum Bones = Inspiration!

I took home a bunch of the bones to show my kids, because kids love that kind of stuff. And yes, I made sure to clean them thoroughly, first with water and then later with cosmetology-grade peroxide.

The kids thought the bones were really cool, but they quickly moved on to other things, as kids do. So then I had a pile of tiny bones sitting around. I had been seeing a lot of people making typography out of different things, and I thought it might be cool to try and make some letters out of the bones. So I did.

First I needed to figure out what I was going to spell. Seeing as how the letters were going to be made out of bones, I figured the final message would need to be somehow related to that, or else it wouldn’t make sense. I didn’t want it to be creepy or scary or anything, and I didn’t just want to write “Happy Halloween!”, because that seemed too easy.

I remembered that Steve Jobs quote from his Stanford commencement speech:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

It’s a powerful idea, but it’s also a really long quote, and I didn’t want to spell that entire thing out with bones. So I simplified it down to the basic reminder: Someday you will be dead.

In order to spell that out, I needed letters 12: A, B, D, E, I, L, M, O, S, U, W, & Y.

I started with the S, since that’s the first letter in the message. I arranged the bones (these were all tiny bones from the possum’s feet – tarsals, metatarsals, and phalanges, I think) into the shape of an S, and took a picture. It looked like this:


Since I only had a small number of bones, I couldn’t spell out the entire quote at once. I couldn’t even make more than one letter at once, really. So I made each letter individually, photographed it, then rearranged the bones to make the next letter. It sounds like a tedious process, but it honestly didn’t take that long. In fact, I went ahead and did the entire alphabet while I was at it, just so I could have those letters too.

Eventually I had all the letters I needed. I brought them into photoshop and started arranging them. I came up with this:


I also made a black/white version, just for kicks.

18x24 bw

I’m aware that today’s post might seem a little morbid to some people, but it’s meant to have the opposite effect . Like Steve said above, pondering your own mortality is the best motivator to live better today.

What are you waiting for? Time is ticking away, people. If you want to make stuff, make it! If you want to do something, stop putting it off! If you need to apologize to someone, or ask someone out, or sign up for that class, or whatever it is….

What are you waiting for? Time is short, my friends… and you aren’t guaranteed another minute.

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One thought on “ Kyle Makes You Ponder Your Own Mortality

  1. Pingback: Some Day You Will Be Dead: The Alphabet In Real Bones | MAKE

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