Ritual. Black cat. Good conversation. Cemetery.

January 11th, 2014, 3pm

The Cementerio de Montjuic is probably one of my favorite places in Barcelona. I’ve been struggling to articulate exactly why without sounding morbid and here’s my best attempt:

It’s beautiful, immaculately well kept, enormous and almost always completely deserted.

Every time I’ve been there it’s been a peaceful, memorable experience and the conversation has always been particularly good. In a place where death, most often avoided, is placed at the forefront of one’s mind conversation naturally shifts beyond the trivial. The top part of the cemetery is an endless maze of corridors, coffins placed into niches, each one piled on top of the other. The bottom part consists of fantastic mausoleums, each one more grandiose than the next, each a transparent attempt at some measure of immortality.

Last Sunday I went with Alex, who appears in the picture with the first of six black cats we encountered. Its appearance coincided with a discussion about religion and the importance of ritual. As a Catholic turned atheist I’ve spent the last few years making dismissive comments about religion and reacting to its persistence with a naive sense of bafflement. As of late, though no more religious, I’ve begun to appreciate some elements of religion. Ritual, for instance.

Ritual comes in the form of worship, of festivals, of milestones. Rituals help to mark the passage of time, to give form to abstract existence and to remind people of the things that are important. I’ve been dwelling a lot on that last bit recently: as an atheist how do I remind myself of the things that are important, of the things I know but sometimes in a day to day sense forget? Having a physical library that takes up room in my life, that contains titles that can be seized, flipped through, that has spines with titles that when glanced at remind me of what I love is one way, perhaps. I’m not sure about the others, though I’ve started to wonder if visiting the cemetery is becoming one of mine.

Paul, Garima, Emanuel, Chris and 3 others said thanks.

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Dani Z

The hardest thing about getting older is realizing that I might, in fact, be a minor character in someone else's story. (I keep changing this bio. I'm not sure I'll ever nail it)

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