Once a month, or at least once every 3 months, I make a point to visit my local cemetery even though I don’t personally know anyone who is buried there.
Sounds kinda crazy, doesn’t it? After all, cemeteries are not exactly high up on the list when it comes to local attractions and fun family days out.
This all started a little over a year ago. I use to take a shortcut through a cemetery when walking into town and this regular visit had a profound effect on me, so I made a habit out of it.
Here’s what I do…
See, hear, feel
I stroll through the cemetery and pay attention!
I read the gravestones, see the flowers, notice the visitors coming to grieve their recently passed loved ones, and observe the number of the new residents added since my last visit.
I then take a moment.
I feel the wind/sun/rain/[insert weather of choice] on my skin, breathe in the fresh air, and appreciate how lucky I am to be alive and the infinite number of opportunities still available to me.
It’s very easy for us to get wrapped up in the everyday struggles and trivia of modern life that we miss on on actually living it!
For example, do you know how good the sun, wind, and rain feel on your face when you stop and take a moment to appreciate that you are alive and free to be able to stand outside and experience it?!
That’s what visiting a cemetery does to you.
The land of the living (who forget to live)
I am what’s known as a ‘workaholic’; I spend almost every waking hour either working or thinking about work.
I love what I do and I am happiest when I’m left alone to tap away on my laptop for hours on end. I get addicted to crossing tasks off my to-do list, achieving my goals, and generally just getting stuff done.
But sometimes I can rob myself of the bigger things in life.
Yes, my accomplishments are important to me and I am proud of my successes (although they may be small successes to many people) but I don’t want to miss out on LIFE.
Visiting a cemetery is a great way to recalibrate. To help you celebrate everything that you have to be grateful for, to remember the importance of simply being alive, and to help you adjust your sails to make sure that you are living your best life.
Your work-life balance architect
Personally, I am not a fan of the term ‘work-life balance’; a concept that encourages people to equally share their remaining time on Earth between working and living.
The term puts ‘work’ and ‘life’ as opposites, suggesting that one is good (life), one is bad (work), and that at any moment in time you are doing either one or the other.
Instead, I much prefer the term ‘work-life integration’.
In reality, we do need to both work and live, but it is possible to enjoy work and enjoy life and to do both simultaneously; you don’t have to clock out of one and clock back into the other.
Regardless, work should not be seen as a ‘bad’ part of life. It’s our work that provides us with purpose, meaning, and structure.
And here’s the part that most people forget….YOU are the architect! You have the ability to design and construct how your work and life fit together.
Unfortunately, in the land of the living, we have our blinkers on most of the time and fail to see beyond our own societal structures meaning we all build from the same blueprints.
But what if Gladdis, who lived a long life and died when she was 89, could get another run-through of those 89 years? How would her architectural work-life blueprints differ?
Cemeteries remind you to take your blinkers off. That the walls and constraints you see are merely an illusion, and you are free to draw outside the lines and create your own work-life masterpiece.
Are your problems really problems?
Everyone has problems regardless of their location, upbringing, parents, income, status, color, age, etc. We all have problems.
Visiting a cemetery is an easy way to put those problems into perspective. Are your problems really problems?
We can all make mountains out of molehills (I am very guilty of this at times) and a visit to a cemetery will help you see the bigger picture and shrink those problems back down the appropriate size.
Please don’t mistake me, this doesn’t mean you should ignore your problems or brush them under the rug. Your problems still need addressing, but by gaining the necessary perspective you’ll be surprised at just how much easier they are to deal with!
You are mortal
Although we know one day we are doing to die – it’s inevitable and unavoidable – we live as though we and our loved ones are immortal; as though time has been frozen and we will be living this life, following our daily routines, for an infinite amount of time.
In our modern age of medicine we have acquired a subconscious belief that doctors and hospitals will always be able to keep us alive. A few pills here and a small operation there and we are good as new!
Although medical professional undoubtedly save and prolong numerous lives every day, they are not miracle workers and we are not machines. We’re made of blood, flesh, and bone, and we come with an expiry date.
We only have a limited number of opportunities to see the sunrise and only so many chances to go swimming in the ocean.
I often read gravestones saying something like, ‘Here lies Henry, died aged 68’, and wonder, what would Henry do if I was able to resurrect him for 24 hours? I’m sure he wouldn’t rush to catch up on his TV soaps!!
We will all return
A cemetery is a reminder of our own mortality and that one day, this will all end. We will all return to the dirt and dust from which we came.
Visit your local cemetery to help you re-adjust your sails towards brighter oceans, create your work-life blueprints, recalibrate your priorities, get some perspective on your problems, and remind yourself to make the most of this wonderful gift called life.
Make it your goal to run, walk, see, swim, feel, love, breathe, do, and experience all that you can whilst you still can.
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