September 29, 2013

I saw another one of those lists today. Those things with ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, a million places to see before you die. With people competing to see who had been to more of them. As if some how counting up and competition, about who had more toys than the rest of us reallymade much of a difference.

A number of years ago, someone asked me, of all the places youíve been and all the places youíve seen where would you want to be most.

My response was instant, ďIn my chair in my home with a book open and reading.Ē

I know, kind of Wizard of Oz-ish.

I have seen some beautiful sights. The stars of the Milky Way at night over the desert years before pollution began to obscure the cosmos above us. Sitting on the shore of Lake Superior one night with the moon and stars shining above and reflecting off the lapping lake water, while on three sides thunderstorms, climbing to the heavens, roared in the distance, the lighting reflecting and illuming the night sky of a wondrous world. Interstate 70 on the last pass over the last set of mountains before it intersects with Interstate 15 in thevalley below, a moonscape of mountain and shadow, jagged peaks and stone, and distant, sun-drenched valley in the distance to the east.

And yet we have lists. And itís kind of harmless fun. And I do enjoy seeing new places and having new experiences. But somehow this notion of counting up and competition seems strange to me.

Perhaps Iíve known for a long time that Iím not going to die with more toys than any billionaire, or millionaire, or, for that matter any kind of Ďmoneyaireí of any kind.

That notion, Iíve seen this and this and this and so what have you seen? Iíll see your Eiffel Tower and raise you several pyramids? Really, this is what it comes to?

Like I said, itís harmless.


And kind of a pointless competition. Do we compare a butterflies wings to the Eiffel Tower? Of course, not. A child sleeping peacefully in his father's arms to, well, really, is there a sight that we could or should compare to that? Each is beauty in itís own way. And can be appreciated each to each. But do we make a list then of butterflies seen, of sights visited, of compassion shone. Itís best we donít, I think. But really, it is harmless.

Itís the lists that bother me. The competition, implied or direct. The setting of a standard, one to another, with always the implication that this life is better than that one. Really, and we are to judge and make lists and say go here go there? I think not. But really who is harmed?

What Iíd be interested in knowing is, how kind were you at every possibility that came to you today? How much did you listen today? What did you do today to make the world a more kind and gentle place?

And no, I donít want you to count them up. I donít want you to justify yourself to me. Not that you had to in the first place.

But this whole counting up notion - of places visited, of movies seen, of books read, of degrees earned. And we count all this stuff up and that equals a good life?

As Iíve said, I know, itís all pretty innocent fun. But it strikes me as just a bit of bullying in a sad way. Iíve been to these places, and you havenít? Iíve been to more of these places then my life is worth more than yours? Iím rich and youíre not?

Congratulations. I hope that makes you feel better, and even more leads to you leaving those of us who are not as rich, alone. Then, indeed, there is less harm.