Want to have a minor existential crisis?
Visit a cemetery with your kids; bonus points if they’re really young.
After an hour-long deep dive on mortality, gravestones, and living the good life with my children, I found myself in a somber mood on the way home.
As we’d been walking between the rows of headstones, I glanced at many of the departure dates. While there were many men that reached a jolly old age, there were a staggering number that barely made it to 60. I could almost hear the ticking of the clock.
I turn 40 next year, and the thought that potentially 2/3 of my life now being complete was sobering.
It also filled me with new resolve. I often think about the measure of our days and how hopefully one day I’ll peacefully consider my contributions to this world with satisfaction and optimism. Guess we shall see.
Ironic that visiting a deserted graveyard would cause such a strong reaction on the question of legacy.
Or is it? Maybe we should be confronting these questions earlier and more often. Maybe we should begin with the end in mind when it comes to how we want to be remembered as well.
Our modern culture neglects these questions.
That neglect is one of the reasons why so many of those headstones don’t have too many years between the dash.
It is said that “memento mori“, the knowledge that we will die, is a great differentiator between humans and other animals.
And yet, we cover up the hard questions with birthday wishes and Hallmark cards. We avoid the inevitable in favor of the transient. And so we forfeit the matter of how our legacy will be written.
As for visiting graveyards, well there’s nothing like going behind enemy lines to determine our best strategy.
Take the fight to the reaper and meet on your terms.