Remembering Death: A Post-Mortem Breakdown of Unus Annus

Death and taxes are the only guarantees in life. While taxes may scare some, death is what many are truly terrified of.

It makes sense. There’s no way of knowing what happens after death. The fear of the unknown plays a major role in this, but then there’s also the fact that death is a rather taboo topic. When mentioned, it can, ironically enough, drain the life out of a conversation and make people uncomfortable.

With death being half the guarantees life offers, why does it still make people nervous?

Just over one year ago, two YouTubers set forth to normalize death, remind people that our time here is short, and to take advantage of every second with two simple phrases: Unus Annus, Memento Mori.

What is Unus Annus?

Unas Annus was a YouTube channel created by two YouTubers, Mark Fischbach (Markiplier) and Ethan Nestor (CrankGameplays). I say was because, in the very early hours of November 14th, the channel and all its social media pages were deleted during a 12-hour livestream.

Unus Annus, meaning one year in Latin, started on November 15, 2019. From the start, it was public knowledge that the channel would be deleted in 365 days. Viewers were reminded of how much time was left by a running clock at the start and end of each video.

During the year, they posted daily videos. Some days were more casual and included the two of them hanging out and making snowcones or sitting in the infamous pee sauna—there’s no way to easily explain that so I won’t even try—and other days they would meet with experts who would teach them something new.

Some things they tried included fire eating, archery, ghost hunting, glass blowing, and much more.

The purpose was to get people thinking about life, death, and what you would do if you only had a little time left…say, one year.

While the videos were fun and upbeat, there was always the underlying reminder of the looming death thanks to the repeated phrase Memento Mori, remember death, in their videos.

Why go to the trouble of creating a year’s worth of content just to delete it all one year later? Why not stop uploading videos but leave the channel alive so people can watch whenever they want?

In simplest terms, because after someone dies the surviving family only can look back on the memories they created.

How Unus Annus Changed Me

I like to think that I try not to take anything for granted. I try to enjoy each day to the best of my ability because I know it could be my last.

Even with that mentality, I still fall victim to the I always have tomorrow mentality. There’s a list of things I’ve always wanted to do sitting around somewhere collecting dust simply because I said I’d get to that tomorrow or next week, or even next year.

But watching Unus Annus was the reminder I needed that one day I’ll say I always have tomorrow, but tomorrow will never come.

Another issue I had up until recently was that I was afraid of trying something new because I told myself that if I’m going to put in the effort it has to be my “new thing.”

But that doesn’t have to be the case.

For years I’ve thought sword swallowing was incredibly cool and said if I ever had the opportunity to learn I’d take a class. But that nagging voice in the back of my head said there’s no point in trying something that I know won’t turn into a career or anything serious.

But I don’t need to make something a career or be amazing at something to just enjoy a new experience. Some things I can do just because it makes me happy.

In one of their final videos, Mark gave an extremely inspiring speech about doing something just for the sake of doing something, especially when it comes to creating something.

Being an indie, self-published author, I took that message to heart. It invigorated me to continue following my passion for writing even if I get no financial or popularity gain from it simply because it makes me happy.

For that, I couldn’t be more thankful to Mark, Ethan, and everyone behind Unus Annus for telling me it’s OK to follow my dream if it makes me happy.

Plus, they brought a smile to my face every day during an incredibly difficult year.

What Would You Do If You Only Had One Year?

How would you react if you were given one year to live? Would you make a bucket list and try to accomplish everything possible before that fateful day? Would you spend time with loved ones and create as many personal memories as possible?

While I truly hope I have more than one year left to live, going forward I won’t procrastinate on my dreams and give myself the excuse that I can do X, Y, and Z later in life.

A year seems like a long time but it passes by in the blink of an eye. As Unus Annus taught me, don’t take any second for granted. You never know when the clock will strike zero.

Memento Mori.

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