Without a doubt, many of you are asking the same questions I’ve been asked too many times: What is the point of this writing exercise? Why graves? Isn’t that, like, wicked morbid?
Firstly, like any writing exercise, this is meant to improve your writing. The idea of using graves is merely to put the writer in an atmosphere that they may not be familiar with. I spend a lot of time in graveyards, both for work (not this website) and pleasure (this website), so it’s not that uncommon to find me lying on the ground with a camera or a notebook, but I assume that I’m a special case. Not only is it unusual, being in graveyards tends to make people uncomfortable, and I’m sure we’ve all been told that we can’t grow if we stay in our comfort zone. I absolutely encourage breaking out of your comfort zone in safe environments, which graveyards are. As long as you’re being respectful and you’re not defacing stones or ripping up petunias. It’s also very peaceful.
On top of all of that, if you have issues expressing grief, graveyards are a great place to people watch and learn the different ways we humans react to loss. And you can learn about human life by looking at graves. There’s a lot you can learn from a grave, but I’ll get into my Sherlockian investigations in another post. That’s one long read right there.
I touched a bit on “why graves,” but I’d like to talk a bit more about that. I’m not on my normal computer, so I don’t have any pictures available to me, but I’ll post a few later on. But just look at a few of the graves across the website. That’s artistry right there! These people aren’t in museums, they’re out in the wilderness. A classic Celtic Cross gravestone? Think about how much work that would have taken before modern technology. And that’s when most of these were crafted! Back in the day, a lot of people couldn’t afford gravestones because of the price of the slab and cost of engraving. Cutting letters wasn’t as easy as typing a few lines of code into a computer. It was a hammer and a chisel, and if there was a mistake, there was no fixing it. It was literally written in stone. Just imagine the effort these nameless artists throughout all of time have put into these masterpieces, and people barley look at them. GET OUT THERE AND APPRECIATE THEIR ART!
Thirdly, and finally, yes. Yes, it is morbid. If you want to think of it that way. I prefer to think of it like this:
Achilles was told that he could die at an old age and be remembered only by his family until eventually all their stories of him faded, and his memory would die. Or he could die at a young age and be remembered generations to come. He chose the latter because he wanted to be remembered. I had a Latin teacher who once told us that everyone wants to live forever, and I didn’t think that was true, until I read about Achilles.
We all want to live forever, maybe not physically, but we’d like to make a mark on this world that extends beyond our time on this earth. That’s why we get involved in these movements for whatever we support, why we work so hard to write things that people want to read, why we post on Twitter and Instagram so much. We want to leave part of ourselves on this earth forever. We want people to see that.
The people buried beneath these stones don’t have internet. Most of the graves I look at are from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. If they have any family left, it’s hard to tell because no one ever visits them. Help them live forever.
View their graves. Pay your respects. Write about them and help their memory live on.