Sunday, October 7, 2007

Do we live too long?

And do we waste the time we have?

I found lovely little cemetery yesterday, with headstones mostly from the 1850s. A beautiful place that was so peaceful, as though it were in another dimension from the manic activity of its main street location. Cemeteries are peaceful places; after all, the dead are no threat, it’s the living who can hurt you.

Some headstones were so worn and broken they could not be read. Some were pink granite monuments, still whole and legible, obviously for affluent families. Some only had initials, the deceased's name lost forever. Several headstones were for entire families; mother, father and children – two, three, four children, all dying young. It was saddening to see so many headstones for wee ones; “died in infancy”, “died 2 years, 7 months”, “died 3 months, 4 days”.

Many detailed the person’s date of birth, date of death, and the number of years, months and days the person had lived. Some listed occupation; one deceased was a reverend who lived only 27 years.

I am fascinated by the historical inclination to list every moment of life, and compare it to our compressed version where only years matter. Life was so short then and the spectre of death such a reality - war, disease, accident, even a bad tooth could kill you - that every day mattered.

Do we waste the days we have now? Do we take our days too much for granted? Do we delay too much, believing that there will always be time?

If death were a closer friend, more over our shoulder, if we knew our lives would be short, would we accomplish more?

Perhaps we should start counting our lives in days, not years. And make the days count more.


JM said...

Great post!
I learned to count my time in moments after losing my best friend when he was only 21 yrs old.
I received his Christmas presents that yr because his parents had bought them on sale(as many do)and held on to them(as most do).
Chris left his family & friends on Apr 1st that yr.
I`ve never held on to a present or a good word since then.
Give both now.You just don`t know.
I know Chris will be taking care of Mac.
I miss you both,guys.
Take care of each other.
You both changed my life.

Social Mange said...

"I've never held on to a present or a good word since. Give them both now. You just don't know."

JM, that's one of the most beautiful credos I've ever read.

Fidelis said...

Do people live too long?

Some do.