Thoughts On The Dead Husks Of Civilization In A California Ghost Town
Tombstone, dated 1857: “The Future Begins Now.”
Four words etched in a marble tablet (though they really should not have chosen marble because, as everyone knows, it will be dissolved by the acidity of rainwater. Duh.)
The town of Bodie, California fills the valley nearby. A ghost town; a tight cluster of dilapidated buildings casting a small glimpse of their former glory. Between the years of 1850 and 1859, it was exploding with life. Gold, gold, gold. Fortunes made. Lives lost. Bread put on tables.
Then, it all ended. A city was left to degenerate beneath the desert sun.
Now, nothing lives here but jackrabbits and tumbleweeds.
I enjoy the moments strutting between tombstones. The sound of the dirt as it crunches softly on hallowed ground. The silence. A calm tranquility falls upon me as I peer out at a dead husk of civilization.
The carving on the tombstone says “The Future Begins Now”. Well, it isn’t wrong. To the honorable dead among which I walk, I am the future, we are the future. But what sort of future had its inscriber envisioned?
I have always been fascinated by cemeteries; solemn places. They even me out. Make me feel grounded. We forget that death is an ever-present phenomenon; that it rests upon our shoulder. The dead do not speak, but they occupy an important place in our world, as a fraternity of reminders that life is worthy of suffering.
A walk among tombstones reminds me of how much I have to be grateful for, it reminds me that life is real, and precious, and that death is real. It reminds me that life is suppose to be hard, and that anything worthy of want is worthy of your sweat.
Here, I see a city that once teemed with life. The air buzzed with activity for 10 years. Then, it stopped. I can almost see the city as it once was: stark wooden structures in the shallow light of a southwestern sunset. But alas, it is not as it once was, for the future is now.
OOLIN | San Jose, CA
This post was inspired by Bodie, CA, Rosehill cemetery@Black Diamond mine, and by a quote from a plaque overhanging a spanish cemetery inscribed (in spanish): “As you are, we once were. As we are, in time, so shall you be.”