What happens in that dash on a gravestone?

One of my favourite pastimes is wandering around graveyards, enjoying the peace and quiet, and reading gravestones. The pleasant thing about being an undertaker is now I can do it without getting weird looks. Not as many weird looks.

Something I enjoy is looking at the life span, imagining what that little dash in the middle contained. Everyone thinks of a life in years, time spent standing on a planet as it zooms through space, revolving around a ball of ignited and igniting gases. Sounds so simple doesn’t it? That all life on this planet has stood under the same sun, slept under the same moon, breathed the same recycled air. Yet we’re all so different; religions, racial heritage, height, weight, everything that makes us unique.

We’ve already seen that there are only so many faces to go round, which is why there’s 14th century paintings of 20th century people. At least I hope it is, or time travel is real and we might be about to get attacked by hugely confused dinosaurs. But that’s not what amazes me. Not all the time anyway.

When I look at those little dashes I think about all the things those people must have seen over those years. The things we take for granted; trains, cars, internet, nuclear energy, computers. The everyday things we see. I wonder about how amazing and terrifying it must have been, seeing all those new things explode into the world.

Then I look at my life so far, 1985 – present, the things I’ve seen, what’s happened in my life. Mobile phones into smart phones, laptop computers, cars that can park themselves, text messages becoming commonplace instead of just as a tool for the deaf. I suddenly realised that actually, far from being boring, my 30 years so far on this planet has been rich and full, it’s just that the technology has become so run of the mill that we don’t notice it anymore. And that’s just the world accomplishments, that’s not including babies raised into adults, families made and broken, dreams had, wishes made and kisses at bedtime. All those ‘little’ things that go unnoticed by an uncaring world. Those things may not be important to the world, but to those important they mean the world.

When my parents were very young they saw man walk on the moon, they saw David Bowie, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Chernobyl disaster. My generation has seen space walks, (and still been excited by them), we saw Girl Power, the end of apartheid and the destruction of the Twin Towers. In all our generations years we have seen the best and worst of humanity, the rise and fall of giants and we have come out of it learning valuable lessons.

Maybe we should learn a huge lesson from realising how far we’ve come, we are humans, we battled short nosed bears, mammoths, sabre tooth tigers and ignorance (the worst of the bunch) to embrace diversity. We are the result of millions of years of evolution, and we seem to be learning that we are on a ticking clock, whether it’s social, chemical, physical or evolutionary, time waits for no man.

Also, check out ‘Syrian refugees Vancoufur’. It really started restoring ny faith. Gods bless Canada and furries.


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