It’s a little mind-boggling if you think about it. The sheer number of people who have lived and died over the course of the history of the planet. As overpopulated as we are as a species–and we are; seriously, folks, if you must reproduce, don’t have more than two children–there are still many, many more dead people than there are people living. The poet William Cullen Bryant in his work “Thanatopsis” (which literally translates as “a meditation on death”) tells us that the whole world is, in fact, one big graveyard. It is “the great tomb of man”, he tells us. With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings, The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good, Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past, All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,—the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between; The venerable woods—rivers that move In majesty, and the complaining brooks That make the meadows green; and, poured round all, Old Ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,—Are but the solemn decorations all…”
I couldn’t help thinking of Bryant’s poem when I read about Larkspur Conservation in Sumner County, Tennessee, where soon people can chose to be interred–they do the choosing before they die, we presume–in a completely natural state, sans clothes and with no embalming, no headstones unless they are made of native rock, and no coffin necessary, although one may choose one of the beautiful all-natural stick coffins like the one pictured above. There will be no plastic flowers, just real ones, and growing grass or trees. Instead of planting non-biodegradable plastic, metal, and concrete into the earth–things which, if we are honest, pollute it–why not this much-preferable alternative?
Or, if you prefer, there’s always the turn-yourself-into-a-tree approach.