We dug graves, you and I. Naïve to the warmth up above the ground, high; We dug and dug deep down, hoping to unearth the still-obscure lie.
When our half-dull shovels hit the ground hard, out with the earth loosened our troubles; And exhilaration dripped like sweat; each drop a glistening shard.
In our youth, we reveled. You slapping me on the back, me leaning on you, contently disheveled, swapping stories of another, and then each other, in quips and cracks.
But the earth was to give way soon, when hunched deeper than our bones, facing roots and rocks, hard stone and some worms, flummoxed; We found bits, and then we didn't, of what lay under years of conditioning.
Our breaks became frequent. Sitting within our own graves, bent, we befriended silence. In a reality so dreary, our jest became mockery. For above us loomed roots of the recently uprooted tree.
Breaks soon broke away to routine. Silence donned its impermeable mantle. Youth matured into a new jealous mean; and only our graves stopped us, from climbing over to bury the other, in a cowardly concuss.
Here I am today, writing this letter to your memory. Knowing that beside you, just a little way away, lies my open grave.
Image Courtesy: A Theology College, Missouri
Grave—the word itself is ominous in its literal implications of everything we push into the dark spaces of our mind—death and decay. When you think about it, are all of us not specialized grave diggers? So specialized in fact that we only ever build one custom grave throughout life and then either lie in it or are pushed into it for what seems to be an eternity (for the body at least). I speak to you of graves in relative measure, for graves are only absolute once filled. See, your mind is almost a magic box. It has separate sections for all human relationships you form, which it then clumps together into similar buckets that it cross-references with all others. In addition to that, death is a non-negotiable reality, at least for now.
So, if you just flip the perspective, you're co-building graves with one another. With feet rooted in your deepening grave, you go through the cycles of life and the journey of growing up relative to one another. This prose explores the journey of life through the allegory of grave diggers. With birth comes the insatiable desire to explore all the mysteries that are infinitely tantalizing in their elusiveness. Then comes youth, when revelry over triumphs rules the mind and celebrations are aplenty. With adulthood, the weight of the inescapable reality sets in, leaving behind abject confusion at the maze of conditioning collected so far. With further advance, cynicism replaces the triumphs, and nostalgia coupled with this newfound skepticism alters the past you once escaped from into an almost wonderous fondness. At the end comes death, and just before that, a hope for absolute redemption. This redemption may look different for everyone, but in its deluded mantle, it carries within it a strain of envy at those whose lives would outlive yours. But beyond this lies true awareness, where all else fades away into the now ephemeral present.
Surviving, then, is maybe what the graves are about. Not the impending death, but the tangy flavor of air as it hits your nostrils and breeds into momentous, ever-shifting realities. Here's to hoping that this Sunday, you discover what soil you unearth and what you uproot.
[P.S. - The haphazard rhyming scheme is an intentional play on the disarray that is grave digging and, of course, life.]