Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A 40 yr old opinion of youth

When I was in Junior High, I went to a small Catholic School in Maui.  There was a cemetary in a sectioned off area in plain view of our classroom windows.  It was a tiny old graveyard. Most of the gravestones had too much water damage to make out clearly.  It was called the Seaman's Cemetary.  Whenever a rainstorm lasted too long and the ground became soaked, we would hear loud sucking noises and the old wooden coffins would bubble up out of the ground.  Occasionally, a lid would slide off.  It was the most exciting thing that would happen at school.  We would scream and giggle as the boys made spooky sounds and chased us around the classroom. 

Today, as you can see, the cemetary has been refurbished and expanded.

It would take Sister quite a while to calm us back down.  Once calm, she would have us pray for the souls in those graves and their families.  She would always try to use the opportunity to explain to us the value of life, how it could end in the blink of an eye, and why we should strive to live a good life so we can leave this earth without regrets.  I remember the pious expressions on all of our faces as we listened to her speak.  Quietly contemplating her words of wisdom.

What we were actually doing was waiting for the bell to ring so we could run around to the old cemetary and dare each other to get closer and take a peak inside the open coffins.  Death wasn't really scary to us back then (as in the realization of our own mortality), it was spooky (as in ghosts and zombies).  Few of us had even experienced the loss of a loved one yet.

Today, as I reflect back on what the Sister was telling us, I get it.  I have lost people I love dearly and I can feel my mortality more and more each year.  Even though I would guess my dare-devil side has had to take a back seat with this revelation, I also find I enjoy the small moments now as much as I do the big ones, maybe even more.

Young people tend to see each day as endless and death as just a rumor at the end of a very long road. 

I find that I both envy and pity them for this.

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