Autumn Thoughts During an Autumn Graveyard Walk

There’s a really nice cemetery near where I live, but the main entrance is gained by a busy road without a sidewalk, so I’ve never explored it, despite living here for almost a decade.

On the morning of Octobert 29th, on a whim I thought I would investigate a closer, albeit hidden entrance to this graveyard that I believed to exist. As I left the house and it started to drizzle immediately. Undeterred I thought, that this was appropriate for a walk in graveyard two days before Halloween. Indeed, there is a hidden back entrance, a road dead-ends and is blocked by a large brushpile, preventing cars entrance beyond, however, for walkers there’s a little rutted path around it, then you can continue on the remnants of the road. It was densely overhung by trees dropping soggy leaves, all ripe, bright colors, and vegetation fills the cracks in the asphalt. Suddenly you come to the summit and see the skyscrapers of Atlanta in the distance, and the numerous graves lay on the rolling hill below.

It’s hard to find a combination of such beauty and silence in Atlanta at 9am (or any time), it’s a very peaceful, well-kept place. I was also surprised how recent many of the graves were, and how hard they were to spot. People buried back in the summer were as covered with grass as any grave from the 50s or 60s. There were people who died at middle age, so many stories cut short, but since they died half a century ago, who would remember anyway? Couples who died mere years apart, couples who died decades apart. Some people who carried on, others who didn’t, for long. I saw the grave of a person who died four days before I was born. The cycle continues.

As I headed out I noticed graves in the wooded area were far older and less kept-up. The oldest I saw was from 1911. I had to sweep away leaves just to see the “Died” date, the grave had sunk into the earth so deeply. Another difficulty was reading these older graves, this one having been so smoothed over by the wind, rain and snow of a century. In another century I doubt the gravestone will be legible at all, and that part of the cemetery will possibly be abandoned to nature as many old cemeteries have been.

Late this past summer my partner and I took a trip to Florida. I took a lot of walks along the beach, mostly at sunrise, sunset and after dark. I can understand why people enjoy the beach, but I found it rather depressing. Staring out over that great force of nature inspired dismal thoughts in me. I thought of how temporal life is, and how meaningless. You write your name in the sand, and it’s washed away, smoothed over, just like that gravestone. “Nothing gold can stay,” and all that. Sometimes it sucks being reflective. But after we left these thoughts smoldered and germinated in my mind and stayed with me, and I began to feel at peace with it. “Of course it’s meaningless, but don’t take it so seriously!”

To me at least it’s a relief that life doesn’t have a meaning, and that it ends forever. It’s all a matter of perspective. It free’s one up to focus on what matters, and what doesn’t. To feel that tugging, temporal-ness of it and live it on one’s own terms. But in a way I feel like at the mere age of 35 I’ve already experienced most of what I want out of life, as crazy as that might sound. I don’t want to die before I get a chance to read a lot of things I want to read (and it’s a very long list) but besides that, what I really care to do would make up a pretty short list.

from Bjork – “I’ve Seen It All”

You’ve never been to Niagara Falls?
I have seen water, its water, that’s all…
The Eiffel Tower, the Empire State?
My pulse was as high on my very first date!
Your grandson’s hand as he plays with your hair?
To be honest, I really don’t care…
I’ve seen it all, I’ve seen the dark
I’ve seen the brightness in one little spark.
I’ve seen what I chose and I’ve seen what I need,
And that is enough, to want more would be greed.

I’ve been an atheist, a non-believer in the supernatural my whole life despite growing up in a religious family. This to me is a step beyond that, it’s acceptance of the implications. This “acceptance” still scares me a little. It’s not suicidal thoughts, although I know what that’s like too. I think I don’t fear death as much, or not in the same way. It’s not depression, I know precisely what that feels like, and this isn’t boredom either. Strangely enough I feel a fulfillment, almost a contentment which I don’t entirely understand.

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