Holy crap has it really been nearly three months since I was on here? I need to start trying to form coherent thoughts that take more than 140 characters to elucidate.
There’s a thought that’s been rattling around in my head for a while and I need to get it out. I don’t want to, because it’s depressing and unhealthy and generally something on which I don’t like focusing, but at this point it’s become like holding in a fart on a crowded bus.
I’m 33 as I write this. Let’s say, for the sake of simple math, I live to be 93. As well, for simplicity’s sake and a touch of optimism, let us assume I am able to travel and function and enjoy my faculties right up to the end. That gives me 60 years. 720 months. A little less than 22,000 days. Most people would say that sounds like a lot. To me, it is a terrifyingly, infinitesimally small amount of time.
There is something like 195 countries in the world. I used to consider myself fairly well-traveled, fortunate enough to grow up in a family with the means and desire to see the world. But when I really think about it, I’ve maybe visited 8 actual different independent nations (E.g., Canada, USA) . Some for only a day, which can hardly be considered a true experience of the culture. That leaves 187 countries in which I’ve never set foot. If I want to see them all, that means I need to average just over 3 new countries a year, for the rest of my life. This year, our big travel plans are Vancouver. Maybe, if we have a really good year, Mexico in the winter. Those will be great trips, but I still haven’t eaten a-ping in Cambodia or wrestled a zebu in Madagascar. It is a 100% impossibility for any one person to experience every culture the world has to offer, or will offer. And some days it genuinely pisses me off.
I love to read. Most books take me a long time to get through; I usually only read a few pages at a time before going to sleep. Let’s say I read 6 books a year (which is probably optimistic). That means I will likely read approximately 360 more books before I die. Even if I double, or triple my reading rate, how many books is that? If I just decide to read all 1001 books (BEFORE I DIE), I’ll need to average about 16 a year. More than one per month. Just for those “classics” that “everyone” “should” read. No room for small-time, self-published books that I might love, that I might connect with on a deep personal level. No cult-y,Â off-beat stuff that no critic would ever consider essential reading, but that I might thoroughly enjoy. Comics? I’ve read Watchmen, the only one that ever seems to show up on these lists. I just finished re-reading the whole Transmetropolitan series; one of my absolute favourite stories and characters from any media. Which “best” novel must I give up so I can finish reading The Walking Dead? Or the next Dark Tower novel? Again, it is a 100% impossibility for any one person to experience every piece of literature the world has to offer, or will offer. And some days it genuinely pisses me off.
(This is becoming a very negative post, and I apologize for that, but for some reason these thoughts of mortality and lost experiences have been stuck in my head for a while, and I’m really hoping that this will exercise those demons.)
I often share this personal maxim with friends: “You haven’t had your favourite meal yet.” I mean it in the sense of “You don’t know if you’ll like it until you try it.” I believe that in a broad sense, also more literally there is so much food out there to try in the world, that (statistically speaking), you probably never will get to try what would be your favourite meal. That upsets me. There is more music and movies and games and art that has been created and will be created than can ever be heard or watched or played or experienced. That upsets me. But it also motivates me.
I crave new experiences. When I visit a new restaurant, and there is something on the menu that I don’t already know what it will taste like, I have to try it. If I’m going somewhere new, I’m going to seek out things unique to that place, experiences to have that I haven’t had before, or won’t be able to have elsewhere. This is a vital part of my life. At least I want it to be. But like so many people, so much of my life is safe and sedate, rote and routine. This is a conscious and accepted choice; I want financial and familial success, stability at the core of my life, and a future certain enough for me to take greater risks along the fringes. I live where I live and work where I work because I believe it likely to lead me to a place of financial means and flexible time enough to do many of those adventures that I crave, and to do them with people I love and a family to grow with. There are people who make different choices, and I am grateful to know of them. I may not be able to experience everything the world has to offer, but I can experience so much more vicariously through the sharing of others’.
OK, thank you Internet, for letting me get this off my chest. Writing it did what I hoped it would: get me to break the mental feedback loop of focusing on all the things I won’t get to enjoy in this world, and instead fire me up once again about all the things that I will! One final extra-nerdy thought: we level up by gaining EXPERIENCE; don’t let your life become a grind.
(TL;DR – Try the special.)