Whenever I drive by the Lake View Cemetery, I always think that I need to stop by. Like, actually park the car, get out, walk around the rows of graves and think.
But, I always make excuses. They usually include having “other things to do” or “no time to stop.” However, I did last week. I had Thursday off from work and I was running around getting errands done — Car emissions test, check. Pick up new re-haired violin bow, check. I drove by the cemetery yet again. This time I stopped.
Mostly I stopped for a visit because recently I have been missing my friends. A good number of my high school friends have moved away from our home town. I’m lucky to have a few of them around to go on runs together from time to time.
One time during a cross-country practice, our high school coach took us — we ran up hill, of course — to the cemetery to visit Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee’s graves. Sounds morbid and nothing to do with running? Possibly.
I remember the small group of us stood around the grave site, reading the engravings. Many of us had tears flowing down our faces. This is what we had just read:
Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
My 17-year-old self thought about how when “I am older” I wouldn’t remember the simple joys of high school cross-country practice. And, after the deaths of loved ones in years to follow, I started really understanding what those engraved words meant.
People ask me all the time why I run. I can never really give a “good” response. It’s usually something lame-sounding like “I like to eat all that I can eat!” or “It’s fun!” But, maybe I do it because I can. Because, Steve Prefontaine told me not to sacrifice “the gift.” Because, I won’t know when I won’t be able to anymore.
Cemeteries don’t just have to be for the mourning or the emo. Ask anyone who even vaguely knows me — I’m far from emo.