New Year’s Day

Someone gave Emily a New York Times #1 bestseller called 1,000 Places to See Before You Die for Christmas. Can I tell you what I think of this book? This book is like the hype around New Year’s Eve, only worse. You know the hype about New Year’s Eve, that everyone should go out and spend a big wad of cash to watch a ball drop. This book calls for more cash and a lot of balls dropping, a 1,000 in fact.

To buy into this book is to feel bad about our lives. I bet even the woman who wrote the book hasn’t been to all 1,000 places she lists as necessary destinations for a well lived life. Does this mean all of us, including the author, will have failed if we haven’t laid waste to our lives to see the 1,000 places she arbitrarily picked as the 1,000 most important places on Earth?

If any one of us was to buy into the value’s system of this book, given airfare costs and the actual expenses of some of the luxury destinations, it would take about a $1,000 a destination or $1,000,000 to see all 1,000 places on this list. Not exactly the budget I had for my last vacation.

But most crucially, what a waste of our preciousness to give away the guiding purpose of our lives to someone else’s idea of why each of us is here. Each of us have reasons to be here wonderfully unique to us. These are purposes only our own hearts can tell us, not a bestseller.

I will probably never raft on the Mangoky river, buy produce at the Chatchak weekend market, or ride the Riobamba express, but my life will not be without incredible pleasures, beauty, and meaning even if I don’t leave the farm, and neither will yours.

Her list made me want to make my own list of travel free freebies. Ever available things like laughter, song, dance, the moon, the stars, flowers, birds overhead, precipitation in all its forms, a shared smile, sunshine, clouds, jokes, furry animals. I know, I know, this list reads like an awful Hallmark card. But sometimes we probably need those sentimental reminders or at least, need to remember how we looked at life when we were very young.

When I was three, I did not need to horseback ride in Mongolia, an icebreaker cruise in Lapland, or trek in Sikkim to know life’s glory. And when I am peaceful and not wanting to shred a bestseller with my teeth, I still know the wonder of the world in the things that thrilled me then like dirt, bugs, and dandelions.

So I will be giving the cable car over Zacatecas a pass. And the whirling dervishes of Konya? I know it won’t be the same without me whirling at their side, but I have a dance of my own to do right here. It’s low budget and not too glam, but I have no complaints. I am going to go out for a walk with the dogs. It’s been freezing rain and there is a coating of ice on everything. The world’s all gray and silver, soft red and brown. Lets call place #27,365,346.