Written In Stone
Who were you?
As I stand here, under the trees, looking out over the field, all verdant greens and earthly browns, right before it’s covered up by the muted grey cloak of the city, that is all I ask myself.
You’re supposed to be nothing but a museum exhibit to me; an eternal reminder of an age gone by, only useful now to scholars and mud-diggers, and demagogues stirring up ancient glories to feed current fires of hatred and division. And me, I’m supposed to marvel at my heritage and move on, maybe contemplate how far this world has come over the centuries and how it seems it’s never really moved an inch.
But your name is there.
I can see it, carved in the ancient stone, and suddenly, you’re not just an ancient relic anymore. I can read your name, I can read your father’s name and where you came from. And like that, I realise you were someone. You lived once, and somebody called you son, and somebody perhaps called you husband, or even father. And you were probably loved, and you were perhaps hated, and you lived, and then you died.
And that’s what makes me wonder then; who were you?
Who did you love? Who did you hate? What were your dreams and your fears? Did you accomplish your life’s goals, or did they swim around your mind, untended to, unfinished, as you lay dying, in the field of battle or your own bed? Were you a kind, loving man, or were you spiteful and cruel? Did those words even mean anything to you and your people? Did you start as one and end up as the other, life twisting and breaking you in big and small places, as it tends to do? Were you learned, or were you ignorant? Were you strong, or weak?
I know those questions matter little. In the end, all you were was one man among billions, part of a species spanning millions of years, in one little place on a big, wide world. What possible difference could it have made whether you were ever there at all?
And yet you were; I can read your name, and I know you were someone once, that you were there for a while, and then you weren’t there anymore. And I guess what I’m really asking myself is, when my name is carved in stone, and the earth turns and the seasons change, and the world has moved on again, will there be someone standing on the soft grass, asking those questions? Maybe you even asked yourself the same, once.
I’ll never know. But your name is there, as it has been for centuries, and in the end, that must be enough.