Cemeteries Tell Us More About the Living Than the Dead

Here is a list of questions I thought about while I walked through a local cemetery today. I hope it brings serenity and a new perspective on your life.

  • All the babies who died not long after birth, how long did it take for their parents to endure such loss?
  • The fathers and sons that died two days apart from each other, laying side by side. What happened? Did they get into an accident together? Were they close before they died?
  • All the named and unnamed ones who died in WWII, what would their lives be flourishing out to be had they stayed alive?
  • The woman who died 2 years after her marriage, at age 50, finally finding true love, was she happy?
  • The ones who lay in the huge tombs with expensive granite headstones, were they happy? Were they loved by their sons and daughters who erected such monuments for them or is it more pride and fame?
  • The ones who lay in the small graves with bunched flowers and toys, clearly frequently visited, were they this loved in their lives too? Were there fights, regrets, or guilt in their lives?
  • The ones who lay in the graves where you can barely make out the names. Have their sons & daughters & grandchildren died out? Have the family moved away? Did they have children? 
  • How many of these people in the graveyard died before their time? how many people died with pain? how many people died living a full life and leaving a legacy behind? How many died peacefully?
  • How many people have a graveyard spot reserved for them in anticipation? 

As of today, July 5, 2020, there were 533k deaths worldwide from Coronavirus. There were 132k deaths in the U.S. 

How many more graveyards are we digging to bury the dead? Will they have others to mourn for them? 

“They were what we are,

Dust, toy of the wind;

Fragile like men,

Weak like nothing.”

–Alphonse de Lamartine, Catacombs of Paris

life may seem meaningless, fragile, and minute in comparison to the inevitable death, the universe, and eternity, but, I didn’t write this article to make you depressed, sad, and hallow in your chest. 

When I visit graveyards and cemeteries, I reflect on whether I am living knowing that I will die. Cemeteries are the physical structures that confront our denial of mortality. It should give you a powerful punch across the face because we are small and fragile, and we aren’t here forever. It makes me feel the urgency of life knowing I have limited time. 

It’s time to live the boldest, unapologetic, and badass life you can ever imagine! Give your life meaning. Say more yes to the crazy invitations of the world. Oh and also, wear a mask.

*See this brief explanation about optimistic nihilism here

The Upside of the Pandemic

COVID 19 Map

COVID 19 (Coronavirus) has been in the news for a good month now. I bet I am not the only one tired of every single accidentally subscribed company’s “Important COVID-19 Update” email clogging up your inbox. This doesn’t even include work emails, various social groups, gym, or the library. Even my previous dentist that I don’t go to anymore sent me an email about how they were going to limit seeing patients. All the headlines from news articles are about the most updated status of how many people have been infected with the virus. The world now officially moved from talking about Trump 100% to talking about Coronavirus 100% (half of that is probably still about Trump dealing with Coronavirus).

My company, along with many other big companies, have asked their employees to work from home until at least April 3rd. I took a bike ride out today and yoga studios, restaurants, bars, and food trucks are all closed. There are a few brave coffee shops still open but they are only doing curbside pickups. I started sharing work-from-home memes and gifs with my friends.

While everyone is panicking about the stock market, their 401k’s, and whether or not they have enough toilet paper to last for a whole year, there are also many unprecedented unmentioned upsides to this pandemic.

1. This pandemic has forced many companies to re-evaluate how they have repeatedly told their employees that they “cannot work from home.” 

As it turns out, there are a LOT of s&*t we can do remotely. Don’t have a monitor at home? Company can ship you one. Need to fill out an I-9 that needs to be in person? Someone else can verify it. A lot of “must be in person” meetings all of a sudden can be virtual. There are virtual town-hall meetings, virtual scrum stand-ups, even virtual marathons! Not to say every job can be remote, but certainly a LOT of office jobs do not require the employee to be chained to a desk. Next time your boss tells you to be in the office “for optics reasons,” there might be a great historic datapoint how “optics” does not actually increase productivity. 

2. It has forced people to learn how to cook!

This is just as wholesome as it sounds. Because with all the restaurants closed, delivery services halted, many people who used to be relying on restaurants and take-out like UberEat, Grubhub, and Postmate now are learning how to cook (because you can only eat ramen noodles so many times in a row).

There is a new wave of social media sharing on the successful and not-so-successful home-cooking. Here’s a very addictive channel on the basics of cooking (Basics with Babish). I certainly have started to become more creative with my cooking as the local grocery aisles are starting to look like this:

3. There are way less cars on the road so we can bike / run!

One of my biggest complaint about this small town in Arkansas is that people probably lived their whole lives commuting by cars, even though it could be just a 15-minute bike ride instead. People are not used to pedestrians or cyclist on the road when they are driving. There are no sidewalks on the road, no shoulders to pull-over, and no sharing the road with a bike. Most of the time, drivers are courteous, and they wait for a good time to pass. But there are other times I have been almost clipped, almost hit, honked at, and yelled at for being on the road with a bike. 

Thanks to Coronavirus, the whole town is almost silent! With no traffic on the road, and 65 degrees weather, it is like heaven. I almost wish this would last a bit longer. 

4. It is a great time to experiment on spending less and love more.

Since everything is closed, there is no place to spend our time and money. People started reaching out to their friends across the state, country, and ocean to ask whether they are doing alright. Although, sometimes it is your annoying ex-dentist reaching out.

This reminds me very much of Mr. Money Mustache’s article about what if everyone is frugal . I wonder if this would be what the world is like if we all-of-a-sudden decided to all become frugal and consume only what we need. Maybe we don’t need all the clothes, food, cars, or other status symbols that we buy to make ourselves feel more worthwhile. All the material things are dwarfed by the threat of our health and loved ones. 


*If you’ve never played Plague Inc., it is a cool game that simulates what a pandemic is like! I always name the virus after my pet princess Tali just so at the end of the game it would say “Tali has eliminated Earth.” This may also give you some hope that it’s actually kind of hard to infect and destroy the entire human race.