Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Few Scattered Thoughts...

This has been a hard week. It's been lots of tedious administrative tasks that need to get done, which tends to get burdensome. It all comes together to give me a general feeling of anxiety. I feel like I've been glazed with a general malaise, dipped in gloom and feeling it drip slowly off of my consciousness like molasses. To help combat this strange feeling, I took a little trip to help put things in perspective.

I had about an hour to kill, so I hopped on my bike and rode out to my favorite cemetery. It's a beautiful place, and very relaxing (strange as that sounds). Generally, you won't run into any people so you can keep to yourself and collect your thoughts.

So there I was, feeling anxious and tense, riding through a beautiful cemetery, and I began to think a bit about the inhabitants of the graveyard. My thoughts started to converse with them, sort of like a gentle prayer to the dead. "How are we doing, guys? Are you proud of your progenitors? Are we fulfilling your dreams?" I don't know how they would respond if they could.

I couldn't help but think of how strange graveyards are. They're like giant monuments to our fear of death. After a few generations have passed, the graves just sit there, useless and lonely. No one knows who lies beneath the tombstones, nobody visits and leaves flowers, no one cares anymore. There are some large, obvious graves which only seem to drive home the point that someone didn't want to be forgotten (though surely they will be), and some smaller, more humble ones. All will fade away. I, too, will fade away. So will all of my family. So will everyone I know, all of my future offspring, and everything I will ever work for in my life.

I saw a few grave markers of some individuals who died very young like this one (if you can't read, this person died at the age of 11). It made me wonder: If I were to die today, how would I feel about my life? Probably not very good. I'm twenty, and I really haven't done anything but try and prepare for when I'm "grown up." I haven't changed anything, really helped anyone or anything, fulfilled my potential, found much of what I'm looking for. It would be an empty death.

Later that day I was sitting down on a bench outside of the library at Drury reading a book. This particular bench has a statue of a former Drury President (considered Drury's best) who died within the past five years, and I was leaning on him. He makes a perfect arm rest. Dr. Browning, one of my favorite professors, came over and pointed out how strange it was to him that one of his favorite students was leaning on a statue of one of his former best friends, though we had never met.

It did seem a bit strange. It started me thinking, "Am I being disrespectful to this man's memory by leaning on his statue as I read my book?" After some thought and research, I don't think so at all. This particular ex-President was a former literature teacher and a lover of all things educational. It only seems fitting that his memory lives on as a perfect place for me to lean as I expand my horizons of thought. Then I thought, "Wow. How perfect. I can only hope that I might someday become the perfect place for some student to rest and read a book." It seems like a delightful thought to me.

I suppose at the end of the day it all makes me question what I'm doing to ensure that every moment is spent properly. There is no guarantee of a tomorrow, so every moment is precious. I've got to be careful, though. There's a fine line here. If I were to truly live like there was no tomorrow, I wouldn't be in college. I'd be out doing things. Still, college is getting me to the point that I can do bigger and better things that matter more to me, so it's worth the risk of not getting out alive. I couldn't join the Peace Corps without a degree. I couldn't go to law school and eventually help people within this broken system without finishing school here first. So I suppose I'm on the right track after all.

My friends, it's a surreal life we're living. Live it well. As Mark Twain said,
"Let us endeavor so to live life that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."

No comments: