Monday, May 28, 2012

The Speed of Life

Facebook is all well and good for staying in touch with people and posting little blips about my life but I still really like the blogger platform for getting into detail about what's up. So here's whats up!

I've finished off my second year of college at NESCom. Completely weird being halfway done college. If life continues to accelerate at this rate I'll be 80 when I think I should be 34. I've always found it depressing that each summer will seem shorter and shorter because they occupy a smaller and smaller percentage of my total life. It's strange to think that as I age and the acceleration increases the pace of individual moments will slow in my old age. I don't know if those two factors will balance each other out or not. There's got to be some weird quantum psychological physics going on there. I know I shouldn't have any thoughts on this topic at all seeing as I'm only 20 years old and still getting started with this whole life business, but I visited my grandfather's graveyard twice within the past two days and it got me all thoughtful and philosophical.

I'm in Vermont right now with my grandmother for Memorial Day weekend. We go up to the graveyard at least once every time we are in the area. His grave sits in a small graveyard situated at the top of a little hill surrounded by trees. A break in the trees provides a view of Mount Mansfield, the rock around which my grandparents' lives revolved. My grandfather was a skier, and worked on the mountain for a time. He met my grandmother on the slopes.

I'd been to the graveyard many times before, but this time was different. The air was cool but not chilly and there was a stillness in the air. I'd never really looked around much when I came, just beelined to the grave and then soon left. Near the entrance, sitting between two rows of headstones, is a tree stump. I saw it and initially thought the stump should be removed, as it was in the way and disrupting the walk to my grandfather's grave. On closer inspection I saw the stump was quite old and was slowly decomposing into dirt. Small flowers and plants covered the stump and were growing strong from the nourishment. It's not an original observation but the slow death of that stump was the perfect compliment to the slow decay of the graveyard itself. When the tree was still alive it likely provided shade to those visiting the graveyard. The tree didn't think about the speed of life; it grew each spring and stopped each fall. Every year was just about the same. As it stood there people accelerated into the graves around it till finally someone decided to cut it down lest it topple and disrupt the flow of humanity into the ground.

As I entered the graveyard this time and looked around, I saw the usual myriad of headstones in their many styles, shapes, and stages of decay. From uneven rock markers worn by wind and rain to the point where any inscription that may have existed is long gone to the dark, gleaming marble monoliths which ignore the forces of nature altogether. Some stones lay flat, keeled over either by a heartless kick or their crumbling bases, obscuring the names and dates beneath 300 pounds of rock. One stone I saw was criss-crossed with seams of moss in so many directions I was unsure how it had not split apart and crumbled like so many others.  I saw a small, simple stone in memorial to a woman who "passed away in her 90th year of age" while nearby a large slab paid tribute to a girl of only two. Their lives were lived at exponentially different speeds but both came to a final stop on that same little hill.

I wandered amidst the stones for a while as my grandmother sat on the engraved bench monument placed there for her and her husband. I stood in the middle of the graveyard and imagined the dead laid out in neat rows, six feet down, resting lightly beneath their thousand pound nametags.

As I stood there I recalled my grandmother's new favorite saying: "I'm headed from slow to stop," a phrase she says her mother used frequently in her later years. My grandmother has had diabetes for over 60 years, and while she must constantly deal with the complications and hurdles presented by type I diabetes, she continues to live vivaciously. I thought about the speed of life, how it both hurtles along faster and faster and comes to a stop from a slow and steady pace. I don't think there's any metaphor I could use to accurately mirror the way life works and I don't think at age 20 I should even try. I do think that my grandmother's life is headed from fast to stop, and knowing her, on this particular road she'll have half the police force after her and be five counties away before she has to pay her speeding ticket.

Well, this wasn't exactly what I expected to write when I sat down, but I hope you enjoyed it. I've got more to talk about so I likely won't wait a whole year to post again. I promise the next post won't be so heavy!