Sunday, April 24, 2011
Near my house is an old, abandoned Swedish graveyard dating back to the late 1800's. It sits on a hillside, nestled between housing developments in a mostly unimproved grove of trees. It is fenced with a split rail fence, now falling down, though not clearly resulting from the elements of nature or the elements of humanity.
Beer cans and soda bottles litter the graveyard, trash accumulating against the trees and gravestones. Teenagers have taken to hanging out, seeking solitude for their solitary group escapes from the rest of society. I wonder how much thought they give to the uninvited guests laying below them, and whether there is an implicit invitation...suspecting the answer is a bravado joke or lack of thought at all; certainly there is no respect for this place I seek for quiet contemplation.
The headstones are old, and looking at how the moss covers and owns them, destroying the identifying engraving differentiating one life from another, I realize how impermanent even the most permanent seeming things are. We seek to immortalize ourselves in one final, lasting way, and within a century, even the most lasting thing we come up with: carving into a solid rock, we are washed away - a mere blink in the moment of universal time. Standing here, my body - this "me" - is even less lasting.
I tend to stop here on my longer runs. Perhaps it is simply a lazy way to take a quick break and catch my breath, but in the gentle stream of thoughts in my head, it serves as punctuation. I recognize the juxtaposition of my living, my exerted breathing, with the lack of breath...a brief acknowledgment of my final destination beyond this run and the next, a bit of reminder to actually live in the time between now and then, and several moments of gratefulness that I am here, now, doing this, thinking this, being lucky enough to stop and think these thoughts and have these feelings.
I share this moment, and the next, I snap a few pictures, trying to capture these thoughts in a visual 1000 words, but for once, the picture cannot nearly convey all the thoughts I bring, and so I add these words.