Photo of Michael J Downey
  • Acoustic / Pop / Rock
  • SANTA CRUZ, California, US
  • Profile Views: 39,799

Michael J Downey's Blog

New blog postWrite a Blog Post
What Do You Do On New Years Day? by Michael J Downey on MyspaceShare your blog

What Do You Do On New Years Day?

Do you have a New Years Day tradition? It seems most people do – from making black-eyed-peas for good luck for the coming year, to nursing a hangover, a hike at the beach or the forest, jumping in icy water… Mine's kinda morbid by some people's standards, but I've done it at least three times in the last few years. I drive north up the coast from Santa Cruz, a bucolic event in itself, to the rustic, pastoral town of ........Pescadero.

Happily, most people content themselves with what they consider a "quintessential coastal town experience" – sampling the world-famous artichoke soup at Duartes, or  shopping at the "Old General Store", but just a few hundred yards up the old stagecoach road lies Mt.Hope Cemetary,

on a hillside overlooking the pastoral fields below, the tiny town down the road, and the eucalyptus grove that borders Highway 1 and the ocean. I arrive to find just 3 or 4 people, family visiting a departed relative, who soon leave. I have the whole place to myself.

It "works" on different levels for me. But first things first. Pull out my trusty iPod, scroll down to the essential album for this experience, turn off "Shuffle songs" so I can hear them in the original order, push "Play" and for the next 45 minutes take in Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" while strolling among the graves. Imagine the part where the clock is ticking, then a cacophony of alarm clocks ring! All, while standing on this timeless hillside, surrounded by the epitome of our definition of time. Of finiteness and mortality.


From a cerebral standpoint, it's fascinating to read the gravestones of people and families that settled here as far back as the early 1800s. There's Italian, Mexican, English, Japanese immigrants. There's children who died at 3 or 4 years old, the gravestones marking the years, months, and days that they lived.

But it's also a more spiritual experience.

Reminding me that I'm not here forever, and I will soon enough take my place among their number. It always poises me for doing my best to make the year ahead count. Among the existential questions of "Why am I here"" and "Who am I?", sometimes lies poignant, existential answers. As I drove away this year, I pondered, what was my answer. And it came to me:



Michael J Downey
  • Jack That is definitely an awesome cemetery! I came across one family of graves & I couldn't quite figure out who was married to who.. anyway. It was absolutely perfect for the video shoot we did there. (I'm Debbie's cousin with the video.) I had never been there before. My friend Matt (the male singer) said he knew of this awesome cemetery on a hill with old headstones so we were like "Heck yeah man! Sounds perfect!" On the way up I was thinking to myself, "Hmm. It'd be great if the cemetery were unkept and almost forgotten about." And it was so it made me absolutely giddy!
    I like to think we entertained the dead that day ;)
    Thanks for watching the video!
    2 years ago
  • colleen Hi Michael,

    Reading your posting reminds me of Harold & Maude. The grief of death and the remembrance to embrace life fully every day. To live life to the fullest, cry,laugh, dance and sing as much as you can. Beautiful.
    2 years ago
  • Jules What a beautiful gift you give yourself. To have questions, and then to seek answers in such a spiritual way is a true blessing in itself. To realize we all have a higher calling, and to open our hearts enough to feel the answer is a gift that is priceless. I can say with absolute certainty you have touched many lives in many wonderful ways. Thank you from my heart for being my friend.
    2 years ago