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Maxin’ Chillaxin’: walk with the dead

There are many ways to use a shovel – this is not one of them. Few things extinguish the flames of a stressful weekend better than a trip to the local cemetery.

Hold on. Just – wait. Hear me out.

Many people seem to break out in chronic cases of the heebie-jeebies when cemeteries and graveyards pop up among casual conversation.

It’s the whole – you know – death and dying thing, I guess.

Either way, walking across a gated-off slab of earth pregnant with coffined corpses isn’t their idea of a weekend getaway.

Fair enough.

But those same people often have a tendency to brashly stereotype those who do enjoy it, denouncing casual cemetery strollers as a bunch of “Goths” or “Satanists.”

Now, I’ll dig into that pile of shit another day. I haven’t the space this time.

But in case you were wondering, no, I don’t own a copy of the Necronomicon, and no, I didn’t drink from blood-filled kegs at Anton LaVey’s backyard barbeques.

There’s just something incredibly soothing about a cemetery.

Maybe it’s the smell of ancient, earth aromas in the wispy pre-autumn breeze. Or that eerie calm of somber silence that dangles over your head while you walk along the paths.

Or maybe it’s catching the last glimpse of daylight in your eye as it careens and reflects against the gothic, granite headstones.

Whatever it is – it is.

Which leads me to this week’s Chillaxin’ Challenge: visit a cemetery.

You don’t need to bring flowers, a boxful of tissues, or a shovel. You just need a decent pair of shoes, a cup of coffee, and some time to kill.

And no, that off-color line about the shovel was not meant to suggest you or one of your dimwitted buddies go out and dig up someone’s great aunt Agnes after chugging a bottle of Jager.

Be respectful. It is a cemetery after all — a place of peace and rest. Bad things tend to happen to those who forget that.

I’m particularly fond of the cemetery in town at the top of the hill on Cemetery Street. It’s a quick walk from campus and it’s sort of set aside in its own little universe.

Those of you feeling more adventurous may want to take a drive up to Birdseye Mountain just outside of town.

A quick drive up a claustrophobically narrow dirt road off of 4A East eventually breaks into a great little campground area complete with picnic tables, awe-inspiring views, and yes – its own small cemetery.

You get a real sense of that lost-in-Deliverance panic when you drive up there in the early morning fog – the silence alone is astounding — but it’s still eerily awesome.

I know some people are still a bit weirded out at the thought of mellowing out in a cemetery. But once you’ve actually given it a try, I’m willing to bet you found it strangely therapeutic.

It’s a cemetery. Some see it as ghosts and goblins; others see it as a warming display of mankind’s fragile mortality.

And then there’s the rest, who take comfort in knowing that even those hell-bent on stressing you out and pissing you off will inevitably be dead someday.

Can I get an Amen?