Lessons from a Graveyard

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I recently started a new hobby…looking for and photographing gravestones. Requests for gravestone photos hit my inbox and, when I have time, I head out and locate them.

The first couple of times I visited a cemetery, I had a hard time walking around. There is this strange feeling of stepping on the grave of someone, almost as if you expect it to be hollow, with your foot falling through. You can’t help but feel…apologetic.

Today I visited a cemetery in my home town. The steps were easier, and the sun poured down, warming the quiet landscape. I read an article that spoke about the best way to search a cemetery for graves in a structured way, if you didn’t have access to an office on the grounds. The author advised that I walk the rows of graves, back and forth. This would ensure I covered every bit of land, and make sure I didn’t ‘chase my tail’ by floating all over the graveyard ‘following my feelings’ in an inefficient way.

Regarding the graves…the long-standing requests have been sitting for many years. I discovered the reason for this. The gravestones are too badly worn, damaged, or don’t exist. Speaking with my wife, I was sure I was going to locate at least one of the six headstone requests. I didn’t find a single one. I have determined that they are either missing, eroded and require more research.

A graveyard, often seen as a somber place, holds more than just the memories of those who have passed away. It can be a poignant teacher, offering profound insights into the delicate equilibrium of life. As we navigate the bustling demands of our daily existence, a stroll among the gravestones might just provide the perspective needed to reassess our priorities.

The gravestones, each telling a unique tale, bear the mark of time. Some stand tall and clear, their inscriptions vivid and legible, mirroring a life well-documented and lived with purpose. On the contrary, others succumb to the erosion of weather and time, their details fading away. This stark contrast teaches us the importance of leaving a lasting legacy, both professionally and personally.

Not every gravestone reveals the challenges faced during one’s lifetime. Behind the facade of a pristine gravestone might lie a story of perseverance and resilience. This serves as a reminder that everyone, even the most accomplished individuals, face struggles that aren’t always visible. Balancing the demands of a career and personal life often involves overcoming unseen obstacles.

Graveyards evoke thoughts about the brevity of life. The dates on gravestones encapsulate the finite nature of our time on Earth. This reflection prompts us to reassess our priorities, urging a conscious effort to strike a harmonious balance between work and life, ensuring that each moment is well-spent. When visiting the local Orland graveyard, I came across graves of those who recently died, who were also about my age when passing. Melancholy is the best way to describe the experience. Here I was searching through rows of memories while closing the rings on my Apple Watch.

The weathered and broken gravestones serve as a poignant reminder of life’s impermanence. The unpredictability of weather, like the uncertainties in our professional and personal journeys, can erode even the sturdiest foundations. Embracing change and cultivating adaptability are essential for a balanced and fulfilling life.

A graveyard teaches us to honor the delicate dance of life. A balanced life is not about the quantity of time invested but the quality of the moments experienced. Just as gravestones are a testament to lives well-lived, our own journey should be marked by a sense of purpose, passion, and a well-nurtured life equilibrium.

A visit to a graveyard might seem unconventional, but it holds timeless lessons about the priorities we set in our lives. It prompts us to reflect on the legacies we wish to leave behind and encourages a mindful approach to the ever-elusive balance between work and life. In the silent narratives etched in stone, we find the wisdom to navigate our own journey with purpose and perspective.

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