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Seated on a low, old stone, long and rectangular like a wall that has either slowly been absorbed by the earth, or worn away to a nub by the sun, wind, and rain over decades and more. I’m glancing out over some of the fresher tombstones far away, down a slope, but I gaze more acutely at those older—much older—nearer to me, beneath a magnificent Magnolia tree and a few cedars. Thinking about the artificiality of time. Looking at all these ancient tombstones, headstones, grave markers: chipped, battered, cracked, broken in half, broken in pieces and chunks, toppled, lying crooked in the dirt and low grass, some leaning like that famous tower in Italy; words once cleanly, neatly etched into an also, once-smooth surface, now illegible, indecipherable, worn away, effaced, obliterated by wind, sun rain, time, time, time…. But what is time?

We all die a thousand million deaths, incalculable deaths, dying every day despite others’ attempts at preservation. Slowly, slowly worn away, a millionth of a meter at a time. Our only hope: to be continually engraved—the words by which we are to be remembered—into that stone until there be nothing left to etch those final words into, or no hand to etch our names, and then, and only then, will we truly be dead, gone and forgotten.

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