Home > Arts & Entertainment > The Buried Life: A Review

The Buried Life: A Review

By Angie DeRosa

Video by Gabrielle Wilson

“But often, in the world’s most crowded streets, but often, in the din of strife, there rises an unspeakable desire after, the knowledge of our buried life.”


Those lines from the poem entitled “The Buried Life” by Matthew Arnold is what struck the beginning of a project two brothers and their two friends would embark on for the next five years of their life (and still counting).

This past Friday, Dave Lingwood and Ben Nemtin of the popular MTV show “The Buried Life” (missing were Jonnie and Duncan Penn, who were elsewhere filming for the show) held a presentation at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven educating fans about their story and inspiring them to start their own “buried life.”

They began speaking about how the group formed back in 2006. Jonnie, Duncan, Ben, and Dave all found themselves in the same situation after college. Unhappy with their current situations and questioning their lives, they found themselves contemplating what life was all about. For Duncan, the drowning death of a friend during a camping trip caused deep introspection as to the meaning of life. 

While studying at the University in Montreal, Jonnie was assigned the Matthew Arnold poem that would create what would soon be the start of it all. Ben proclaimed, “We had no idea what the project would be, but that [“The Buried Life”] would be the name of it.” Soon afterwards they all conferenced on Skype, a video chat service, and compiled a list of 100 things they wanted to do before they died. For everything they accomplished on their list, they would help a stranger complete something on his.

Throughout the night, Ben and Dave went back and forth, describing their journey of all their successes and failures. One particular story they shared was the time they wanted to check off the first task on their list: Open the 6 o’clock news for a television network. They went to the biggest broadcasting center in Vancouver, British Columbia, and sat outside in their RV waiting for people who worked inside to leave the building.  The four men explained to the network employees what they were doing and if they could be on TV to announce the news. They said “no,” as did all the other people they encountered afterward. But giving up wasn’t an option for them. They ended up spending the night in the parking lot. Dave recounted,  laughing, “The next morning they asked us what they could do so we would go home.” Their opportunity had arrived.

More of their experiences were shared as well as their stories of helping others. They confessed that they were never the “good kids,” but that it was the first time they ever really helped another person to realize a dream or accomplish a goal. They met a woman who was diagnosed with brain cancer and only had 6 months to live. Ben explained how he didn’t understand how happy this women could be nor how content she was knowing that she was going to die. From that moment he urged, “Everyone must seize the day – carpe diem. Take advantage of everything, go after what you want.” The audience was overwhelmed with sadness and awe. It was so influential for many in the audience, to say the least. Everyone should take those words into their hearts and move forward, knowing that nothing is certain and life is unpredictable.

The message the men wanted to get across had nothing to do with boasting or bragging – they sought to inspire everyone to do what they had committed to be: authentic and giving. “Happiness is only real when shared,” Dave said, quoting Christopher McCandless in his memoir Into The Wild. There is no purer enjoyment you will ever feel in your lifetime than knowing you’ve impacted another human’s life in a significant and moving way.

Should “The Buried Life” team decide to visit your area, it is more than worth the ticket price and trouble to attend. They will inspire you with their mission and move you to action. Saying any more would ruin the message and the lessons learned by these four young men. I’ll leave that up to you to disclose the rest.

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