Three Epitaphs


The children of Israel wanted bread
And the Lord sent them manna,
Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife,
And the Devil sent him Anna.
—In a Ribbesford, England, cemetery

One of the assignments in my daughter’s latest MBA class will be to write her obituary. It’s a standard values clarification exercise. I pretty much know my own values by now and the idea of an obituary sounds a bit too wordy for me. But I have been playing with epitaphs, brief summaries of my values. I’ve come up with three.

The first one is a natural for Cheerful Monk: Never been eaten by a crocodile.

The second one would be At home in the universe. That search took a lot of my time in my early years.

But those two aren’t quite enough, they don’t have enough passion. So I’ll add a third,

Just a little clod with a stir of might.

That comes from a segment of poetry by James Russell Lowell:

Every clod feels a stir of might,
And instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers.

It reminds me of John Campbell in The Power of Myth

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality….

my picture

Yep, that’s me, just a little clod with a stir of might. There’s a little life in the old gal yet, and I treasure it. 🙂

What about you? How would you sum up your values, your life?

Thanks to bikehikebabe, Ursula and Rummuser for commenting on last week’s post.
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10 Responses to Three Epitaphs

  1. Jean says:

    For some reason my theme was messed up temporarily and wouldn’t let people comment. I believe this is fixed now. Please let me know if you have any problems.

  2. Mike Goad says:

    I had a fellow that I’ve known several years sum part of it up for me when we were talking about the possibility of me coming back for another contract job in 2011:

    “Y’know, you’re the only one that can do what you do.”

    He’s one of the students in the license class I’ve been working with since July. They test with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission this week in the simulator and I’ll be playing a supporting role — on pins and needles until they’re done…. and then I’m done…. for this year. 😉
    .-= Mike Goad´s last blog ..Bear! =-.

  3. bikehikebabe says:

    To laugh often & much;
    To win the respect of intelligent people & the affection of children;
    To earn the appreciation of honest critics & endure the betrayal of false friends;
    To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
    To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
    To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    I just got back from a funeral. This might look nice on a tombstone, changed a little… i.e She laughed often & much;

  4. Evan says:

    My philosophy: stay open, stay with it; it works.

    My values: compassion and joy are good.
    .-= Evan´s last blog ..An Introvert’s Journey =-.

  5. Jean says:

    That must make you feel good! I hope the test goes well.

    Any part of that, personalized, would be a great thing to have on a tombstone. Much better than “And the Devil sent him Anna. 🙂

    That’s close to my motto, “Stay curious and open to life. No matter what happens keep learning and growing. Find what you love to do and find a way to share it with others.”

  6. suzen says:

    Hi Jean! I love your motto! That is my song too!

    Honor and be grateful for what/who you are, and make the very best of it would accompany that.

    • Jean says:

      “Honor and be grateful for what/who you are, and make the very best of it… ” Amen to that too!

      Yes, I love that Campbell quote too.

  7. Rummuser says:

    The Joseph Campbell quote is mind blowing and has just persuaded me to buy a copy of the book. My own obit would perhaps read “Came, laughed and went.”
    .-= Rummuser´s last blog ..M. F. Hussein =-.

  8. Cathy in NZ says:

    I wouldn’t know what I would want on mine…but just this last week I was reminded how ‘much I had changed in less than 10yrs’

    I was invited to meet with some women who were in Auckland from around NZ for a short time…some of these women I had not seen for quite a few years (possibly a decade). Some hadn’t aged a bit whilst others I didn’t recognise at all.

    The ones who thought they knew me were astounded at how much I had changed – appearance wise

    A couple were astounded about how much more vocalised I was as well – as if I had a tongue.

    I know I have changed inside of me and my physical appearance has changed but I hadn’t really thought anyone had taken that on board. A few days later I was out with my best woman pal and I told her all this and her reply was

    “we all know how much you have changed…why can’t you see it…a total tranformation”
    .-= Cathy in NZ´s last blog ..New Semester Week + other things =-.

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