I had a disturbing thought while driving today, which I am typing up without much additional thought. Is travel really a reminder of our mortality, as much as a celebration of our living?
We travel to places on our bucket lists. Consciously or subconsciously. Bucket lists are designed for experiences, designed for travel.
The book title invites us, perhaps commands us. “1,000 places to see before you die” is the title. Think about that again. You are going to die. Travel and death are not just subconscious. They are explicitly stated together. You will travel and you will die. Just be sure to do them in the proper order.
And the act of traveling itself is a collection of experiences we will never have again. I once journeyed to Riga, Latvia. (Why, you ask? Cheap airfare, of course.) Riga has art nouveau architecture rivaling (or surpassing?) Vienna. A language recently freed from the Russian tongue. Great beer, which I am reminded of by a coaster swiped from an old town bar that sits on my dining room table. Perhaps I shall write about Riga soon. But I digress.
I may never go to Latvia again. If I live to be 80 or 90. Or 100. I may never go to Latvia again. Just traveling reminds me that life is too short to go everywhere, but long enough to keep trying.
So I put the memories in one pocket of my jacket, my metaphorical collection of voyages. And I buy a bigger coat, with more pockets for the travel experiences I must have. I seek a coat with 1,000 pockets, for there are 1,000 more places to go before I die. Or so I am told.
I travel to prove I am alive, and I travel to remind myself I will not live forever. We are all mortal. And we are all travelers. At the same time.