Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Yard of Graves

Nathaniel Starnes lies roughly six-feet below the grass here at our feet. By the date on his headstone, he's been lying in that position for roughly 13 years. He's wearing what was - at the time of his burial - a brand new suit, in a style he never would have bought for himself, but which his mother quite adored.

Nathaniel Starnes was a poet. He wrote some of the most beautiful, most profound, most heart-wrenchingly humanverses you will never read. He scribbled them on napkins and bits of scrap paper; but he never thought they were good enough. The majority of his work is now buried beneath all the refuse and rubbish of the county landfill, seventeen miles from here.

Right next to Nate - his friends called him Nate - is Carrie McCarthy. Carrie wanted to be a writer too; but she never wrote anything. She spent years daydreaming about the novel she wanted to write. She knew her characters so well she knew their birthdays. Not just what they looked like, or what they did but how they felt. She understood their hopes and desires - and all things that stopped them from achieving their dreams. Her widower found a box of notes and outlines, but didn't know what to make of them. They now lie, forgotten, below sixteen bags of garbage in the same landfill as the majority of Nate's poetry.

Carrie's been dead for six years now, buried under the earth; and no one will ever read her novel.

Dr. Martin Mallory is buried over there. Five months dead and barely out of med-school. Martin had an almost innate understanding of the human body and the maladies that effect it. He was toying around with an idea about how to trick cancer cells into turning on themselves. I don't understand the specifics; but apparently he would have paved the way toward a cancer cure in the next few years. He never told anyone about it, though. He thought it was just too easy. It couldn't be that easy. He was sure he was missing something; and he didn't want people to laugh.

No one laughed when the lowered his coffin into the ground over there, and covered it with dirt. He's gone now. They're all gone. And they took so much with them that we'll never know.

Danny Carson over here - six feet down. He died in 1985. He never would have written anything profound, or discovered anything that would've changed the world. Danny Carson was funny, though. He had such a great sense of humor. He was pretty good with an engine, too. Liked to fix things.

He dreamed of being a stand-up comic. Sometimes he would try to work up a good routine. He jotted down notes about all the funny things that happened throughout the day - about all things that happened in the world that weren't funny, unless...

But again, he was worried that people would laugh. Well... not like that. He never really believed he was funny. He thought people would laugh at him, instead of his jokes.

There's nothing wrong with fixing cars. It's a vital service; and Danny was good at it, as I've said. He would've been an amazing comedian, though. He might not have changed the world, but he sure would have made people laugh. Now he's gone. No one will ever see the world in quite the same way again.

All of these graves. All of these unrealized dreams; all now forgotten. All the things they never did. All this waste. That's the thing that's wrong.

A graveyard is not just where we bury the dead. It's where dreams lie unfulfilled. It's where goals wither away to nothing. A graveyard is a monument to all things we never did because we were afraid, or unsure, or... just didn't have the time.

We don't teach each other how to believe in ourselves. We go to school to learn math and how to read and write, but how do we learn confidence? How do we learn the determination necessary to follow through on all the things we wish we could do? All the things we should have done?

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