It is said that the activities you do on the first day of the year are the most reflective of who you are. I thought about this while strolling through the Liuzhangli cemetery on January 1st, 2014. Earlier that morning I had lunch with my in-laws at one of the city’s pristine malls. We shared a feast of dumplings and then my partner and I politely excused ourselves and caught the train to Liuzhangli station.
For the better part of the day I wandered through this massive cemetery that spreads itself in all directions. It stretches miles into the horizon, and expands on the vertical, graves plotted like stairs down the hills. From wherever I stood, there were tombs above me, below me, and to all sides surrounding me.
I don't know why it took me a year to write about this cemetery, nor do I know why I have to be writing it from a cafe in Vientiane, Laos. But for some reason, the approach of 2015 reminded me of climbing up those concrete steps.
What amazed me so much about this cemetery, as observed on a golden winter day, was the boldness of color, not just on the tombs, but in nature. Patterns were everywhere. The way moss grew along the edge of every stone, the roots of trees woven together like yarns, even the way crispy leaves landed on the ground was somehow perfect. I saw it all that day.