Thursday, March 12, 2015

What is left behind

Life. 
What's the meaning of it? 
We're born, we are adorable babies, cute toddlers, 13 years of school photos, prom pictures, that cap and gown event, maybe college, we work, we shoot for these incredible goals for our lives and then ... we die.

We all die.  There's no avoiding it.  No one gets to live forever.  Some of us might get to live much longer lives than others but all of life ends.   Plants die, people die, even inanimate objects fade and lose their luster.  Nothing remains the same ... ever.

What is left behind when we are gone?  In most cases, it's a plaque, or a carved stone with our names forever immortalizing the time we were here on earth.  That's it.  People walk by them, kids sneak around them.  Sometimes, punks even desecrate them.  But, that's all that remains. 

Across the world there are thousands -- no millions -- of tombstones, masoleums, headstones, memorial plaques, ... you name it.  Something is out there to memorialize every person that has walked this earth in some fashion.  Even if you are one of the nameless or unidentified people who died in various mass deaths, there is something dedicated to you as part of a group. 

It's become more and more clear that I am not the only person who is fascinated by the concept of death.   I love all things cemetery.  I always have.  I believe in the paranormal.  I think there are people who haven't left this world.  Physically, their body has ended it's time here but, something keeps their metaphysical form here.  As with most who believe in the paranormal, I think it is a sort of tragedy or immense and horrific sadness that keeps people behind.  Unfinished business is thrown around a lot.  I say "perhaps" but, everyone has unfinished business so ... it has to be something major to keep a spirit hanging on to this world. 

In every case, our lives are reduced from sometimes being larger than life to just a piece of granite or marble.  Our entire existence and all the things we achieved while we were living and breathing is all summed up in two dates with a dash in between. 

The day we were born and the day that we died. 

Photographs that capture happy memories can easily become sad when someone in that photo has passed on, especially if they did so far before their time and/or in some tragic manner.  I think about that every time there is a story of a murder or a tragic death on the news and they slap a small montage of photos of the deceased.  Everyone in the photo is smiling and happy.  It's a perfect moment captured in time.  When everyone in the photo was here on earth, it was a fun memory, a happy day.  Then, the entire tone of the photo changes when someone died.  

At least in 2015 photos are easy to take.  Back in Victorian times, 6 out of 10 times, the only photograph a family had was of one of their loved ones after they died and most of the time the photo was of a child.  Sad, but wonderful that they were at least able to capture an image of their loved one. 

I think of these crazily famous celebrities.  Their lives are SO big.  Everyone on the planet knows who they are, what they do, where they grocery shop, what they had for breakfast, etc.  They are on top of the world.  There is no one more famous than they are and then ... they die.

This person who was all over the news and in every tabloid magazine is just gone.  No more will the paparazzi chase them down and make their money taking new photos of the celebrity.  They can't.  They are dead. 

All that remains is a slab of marble with their names on it. 

Just like everyone else. 

It doesn't matter what we do with our lives while we are here on the planet.  Even if we make the biggest difference and change the entire world ... we can't live forever.  We will still just be a tombstone in a cemetery, a plaque in a mausoleum, a dedicated park bench, or a concrete square in Disneyland. 

We all want to be remembered. I don't think anyone really wants to just be forgotten in this world.  But, we spend too much time trying to make a mark on the world we live in.  That's great.  We should all want to better the world we leave behind for generations after us.  But, I think there's too much emphasis on being remembered.  We should embrace the time we are here now ... not work to hope that our memory is a good one.

I walk through cemeteries and I wonder about the lives lived by the people who rest around me.  Were they happy in life?  Did they enjoy the simple things?  How did they die?  What sort of life did they live?  I have so many questions about the people that they were so ... everyone IS remembered in some fashion.  Our names are etched in stone, how could we ever truly go away?  So, we shouldn't fight so hard to make sure we leave a mark.  We should just live.  We should just be happy. 

Life is right now.  This is life.  We are living it every single day.  If you are a goal setter, you're happy setting goals and breaking them so you're doing what you should be doing.  But everyone else who feels the weight of not "doing enough" ... you are.  We all are.  We are living.  We are people on this planet and soon we will be marble stones on the planet.  We will be etched names and dates for other taphophiles to walk by and wonder about.

Live.  Laugh.  Love.  And like wise men once said "Don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out alive."