I stopped at a pioneer cemetery during a recent bike ride. It struck me that this cemetery was somehow worth getting off and examining. I have passed many traditional cemeteries without more than a sideways glance. The few dates and words on the tombstone provide the briefest encapsulation of an individual’s life. What makes a pioneer cemetery so remarkable to me is the story. Here are the remain of people who were living on the edge of civilization one hundred or more years ago. We continue to visit these sites and talk about their courage and struggles. In their journals we read how pioneers were often just trying to exist, not trying to make some larger social commentary by residing distal to larger population centers. Their attempts to thrive on the edge is what fills our conversations and imaginations.
Where are we being pioneers? What edge have we selected? What stories will outlive our work?