Thursday, February 23, 2012


When we are in the dregs of winter, perhaps it's natural to dwell on the darker side of human experiences. Plants die in the winter, or at least hunker down and stretch deeper into the earth. Most animals get thinner as food supplies dwindle, and yet humans get notoriously fatter in the winter. I think it's good practice to live closely with the cycles of life.

In this vein, I present a little collection of possible epitaphs--thoughts on life and death that would not necessarily be carved on a headstone (what do we cremation-choosers use?) but at the very least, sum up a life-philosophy. I suppose the collection is part of what Gretchen Rubin calls my "ongoing, personal research project." Little notes scribbled on gum wrappers, books filled with ephemera, thoughts, quotes, lists of songs to play at my funeral (that's another post.) My mom is a notorious personal research note-taker. She may still have a misquoted saying from LA Story in her wallet.

This is my favorite of all possible epitaphs:

"The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
all goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what anyone supposed, and luckier."  Walt Whitman

Another great one is:

"Is it so small a thing,
to have enjoyed the sun,
to have lived light in the Spring,
to have thought,
to have done...     Matthew Arnold

The weirdest one is on W.B. Yeates' grave in my opinion, although I love it.  I've had the pleasure of visiting this site. There is nothing quite like an old, overgrown Irish graveyard in the rain. It's so romantic.

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