Present Tense

Lessons from the cemetery

We live behind a small cemetery, which doesn’t bother me at all.  In fact, I like it.  It’s peaceful and well-maintained, with beautiful old oak trees sprinkled throughout.  Many of the graves are regularly decorated with vivid flowers and plant baskets.  I walk it frequently.

The thing that interests me about this cemetery is that many of the “founding fathers (and mothers)” of Lake Leelanau, Michigan are buried here.  Some were born in the early 1800s and lived very long lives in what had to be a difficult place to tame.  Most of these same families are still here in the 3rd, 4th and 5th generations.

One aspect that does make me a little uncomfortable is when a new grave is dug.  We saw the backhoe last Thursday and then on Friday the cars streamed in to honor a gentleman that served our country with honors during the war in Vietnam.   From our house we could hear a 21 gun salute and Taps.  His life and service was being honored by those whose lives he touched.

But then they were gone.  We left our house to run an errand an hour later and the cemetery was deserted.  Empty.  That makes me sad.  We gather to bury our dead and then disperse back to our lives.

That’s the lesson, though isn’t it?  Life, death, ceremony, legacy, generations, time, happiness, sadness, grief, regrets, love, finality, infinity, clarity.  The circle of life.  We are all here now, but have no idea how long the ride lasts.  This gentleman was only 68 and I’m sure that his children and grandchildren feel robbed of a decade or two.

But, we never know. What we DO know is that our time is finite.  How do we want to spend that time?  Overwhelmingly, surveys indicate that all of us want to ‘be happy’.  We all have to find our path to happiness and from what I can tell, the first step is forgiving ourselves for the missteps in our lives.

Next up is forgiving others for their missteps, whether they are friends, lovers, family members or complete strangers.  We need to learn to soften to their seeming bad behavior.  Give ’em a break.

Once we master those two things, I have a suspicion that it all falls into place.  In order to be happy, we have to know ourselves. We must honor who we are and what we need from our life.  I don’t know for sure since I’m still a work in progress, but the less pressure I put on ‘me’, the less I put on others and the calmer and happier I become.  So, this is my path.

I guess the goal is to find that elusive happiness before the 21 gun salute and Taps.  Start now.  Be well.

September 15, 2013 Posted by | Musings | 14 Comments


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