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A Distant View: Mortality therapy

The latest column from Marc Legare
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A Distant View

Marc Legare is a philosopher and motorcycle adventurist.

He has travelled extensively, worked and lived in Australia, US, and across Canada.

He has a varied working career including: Firefighter, Lawyer, Navy, Motorcycle Importer, plus others.

He chose to return to southern Saskatchewan because of his family's deep roots here.

There is a place we can go in this world where real, tangible, and indisputable truth reigns supreme; the graveyard. A trip to a cemetery is a place of peace and an anchor we can hold onto when the absurdities of this world or our personal troubles are overwhelming us. A reminder of our mortality is grounding and good for our soul. 

There is a simple exercise we can do when we find ourselves in times of strife and when our worries seem insurmountable. That simple task is to look at the tombstones and the dates upon them. We do not have to look at too many graves before we realize just how many young lives were cut short. More therapeutic and clarifying is to recognize the vast numbers who did not have the opportunity to live as long as we have already. If anything should humble us, it is that.

Shouldn't most of us, having lived longer than so many, rethink our place in life and appreciate just how fortunate we are, at least on the longevity scale? One real tragedy is that many did not grow old enough to even be able to spend time contemplating graveyards. They are the ones to shed a tear for and in doing so, maybe our troubles will fade just a little.

No matter what you think about life, or the raging torrent of our troubling modern life, a visit to a graveyard puts everything into perspective. Recently, we seem to be bickering endlessly and pettily disagree on just about everything. We are also worrying and fretting to exhaustion. A trip to a local cemetery puts most of those things where they belong, on the nonsense list. A quiet walk among the graves and contemplation of our mortality is the best therapy there is to recognize many of us are playing at kitty-benders and most of our issues, problems, and fears, ultimately amount to a hill of beans. All of our trials, pains, and sufferings, have a final ending, and the gray granite icons, row on row, tell us where that ending is. 

For those who are facing genuine tragedy, the graveyard can also provide some solace. It is a peaceful place when you are facing real, imminent peril. All of us must face death. It may be a fright for some, a blessing for others, but one thing it cannot be, is denied. It is the most irrefutable truth of our existence. A solid dose and reminder of the limits to our lives is necessary from time to time. When we accept that our lives are short and everyone must face personal doom sooner or later, a certain calmness comes. It is good for our souls to remind ourselves that when it comes to pain, suffering, and even our passing, we are in good company.

One final thought. There is a serenity in knowing we are not as important as we think. What better place to be reminded of this than the burial ground. Charles de Gaulle said some powerfully accurate words in his famous quote, "The graveyards are full of indispensable men."

Perhaps the greatest tranquillity found in a graveyard can be understood from the words of the great poet John Donne, who died very young, "Death comes equally to us all, and makes us all equal when it comes."

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.