I was on my way to basketball practice in Visalia today and had a random thought that I should drive through Corcoran Cemetery just east of town and wave at all the grave sites where I know that my friends, loved ones, and plain old acquaintances are buried.
The only thing that stopped me from doing it is I still have a strong enough of a voice in my head that yells at me not to do stuff that's gonna make people think I'm crazy. I mean it was a tug of war over the steering wheel for a minute, with the side of me who don't give two flying fucks what people think almost getting the upper hand. Good sense won out this time, I guess. Next time, I don't know.
As I drove past, I thought about whether or not it was such a crazy idea. I make this drive to Visalia a lot, and I get bored. I often play a game where I'll pick out something and link it to something else way outside the box and see how long it takes me justify the connection. I don't know which is crazier, actually doing something like that or admitting that I think of about such things a lot.
As soon as I passed the cemetery by, I started in trying to prove that maybe the idea wasn't so crazy.
The first thing I thought of was the purpose of the cemetery. I think that they have a symbolic meaning for us as a place where our friends and loved ones rest in sweet repose. But its not like they are laying on a beach towel or in a hammock, sipping on their beverage of choice, watching time past by until we can join them and set up a poker game or nothing like that. They are not really there, only the remains of their physical bodies. That's it as far as we know except for the fact that matter can not be destroyed just transformed. The material that composed their bodies is, in fact, eternal and will one day become something else.
Maybe we use graveyards more to separate life from death. The walls we build around them and the gates we place upon their entry ways are meant more symbolically to keep death within certain boundaries so that the knowledge of death is limited and restricted and does not come out to play in the land of the living. In other words, those walls tell me and those who travel past the cemetery everyday to just keep on driving. And in a way, I suppose that is all well and good because you can't live in the future if all you do is dwell on the past.
The problem is that ghosts are made of the stuff of memories and are no great respecters of boundaries, walls, and gates, or even the rules that govern the land of the living. In many cases, they inhabit our reality and influence us and our decision making far more than most living beings. And, I guess, in most cases, this is well and good too.
We run into problems when the balance gets out of whack. When I come home from practice, it is usually at twilight, and I see a lot of families who set up some chairs or spread a blanket to sit by the side of their lost loved one. My heart melts, and I silently pray that they can all live their future as well as they honor their past.
But it is one thing to leave the side of the grave and move on and quite another to think that you can place your memories into a hole, place dirt over them and drive away thinking they will be contained behind some walls.
One of the greatest problems facing mankind is that we have become so enamored with our new cars, our big screen TVs, and shiny new shit in general that we are willing to pretend that we can hang onto them longer by separating life and death into categories, into two different worlds, so to speak, where we can enter and leave as we please.
Death is a part of life. And the best way that we can deal with its frightful visage is to honor the ghostlike memories of those who traveled before us and along side of us and to use them to guide us forward.
And maybe wave at them as you drive by, or give them a shout out with the window down,..... tip your hat. Something.