First: no, this is not going to be about why I haven’t killed myself yet. It’s about why I stayed home instead of packing myself into a car to go to a graveyard.
Today’s the 1st of November. Which, according to the Polish tradition, is the saddest day of the year (with the exception of the 10th of each month*).
Millions of Poles make their way to cemeteries to celebrate All Saints’ Day. The point of the holiday is to commemorate relatives and friends who passed away, as well as the people who no longer live but they were forgotten about. Shops, schools, and institutions are closed to allow people to reunite with the fallen and spend the day with family and in peace.
As I said, the saddest day of the year. Because who would want to spend the day whining among graves and chrysanthemums? (I call chrysanthemums “the plant of the dead”. If you put it somewhere else than on a grave, you’re a freak).
Besides, due to an increased road traffic, 1st November experiences a higher number of car accidents than an average day. People die on their way to light candles on the dead people’s graves. Isn’t it ironic?
Another downside of driving miles to a cemetery is extra petrol used and extra fumes produced. 1st November marks the point when the air quality in Poland goes from “poor” to “unbearable”. The heating season blooms, and the smoke coming from chimneys combined with car exhausts turn the air into a choke-generating gas. A reasonable solution, then, is to visit a grave when you have an opportunity to.
So what am I doing today, if not freezing my fingers off at the cemetery? Sitting on my bum in a comfortable chair at home?
That, as well. As any other autumn evening. But today I would much rather take a walk in the park and spend some time with nature.
The dead are just present in a forest as in any other place in the world. Their spirits are no longer on the Earth, and ours will go away too when we pass away. This is the cycle of nature. Most of the time, we forget that and think we are immortal, and take everything so seriously, as if social media faux pas or chipped nail polish mattered the most in the world. That is not the case.
Just take a walk in the park. You’ll notice it looks completely different from what it did back in June or July. There are no longer blooming flowers and green leaves on the bushes; there are dead plants, fallen leaves, and bare wigs on the tree crowns.
This does not mean that nature is pretty in summer and ugly in autumn. Nature is beautiful all year long. As long as it’s pure and not spoiled by the human.
But a walk in the park is the best way to reflect upon the cyclicality of life. Life – of a plant, an animal, a human – starts with a seed which develops, grows, lets the first leaves and then fruit, and then it reproduces and its offspring grows, and the life becomes weaker and eventually dies.
This happens to all of us. No matter what magnificent structures we build or what diseases we learn to cure, we are no different from giraffes or apple trees. We’ll die and that’s okay. But as long as we live, we should do our best to make the world beautiful and produce the best things we can.
So if you don’t want to visit a cemetery today, don’t feel guilty. You can spend the day differently and still get the message that it carries – but don’t restrict yourself to the walls of your flat and really, get yourself out into The Great Outdoors.
*Confused much? Just ask. Or use Google.