Friday, December 8, 2006

Last Days

Here is a hypothetical scenario from anticant - "You are reliably informed that you are going to die twelve months hence, and that for the first eleven of them you will remain strong and healthy.What are you going to do during that time that you have long wanted to, but have been repeatedly putting off because of all the hum-drum pressures of daily living?"

My wife and I have several plans which would need to be accomplished in that time.

We would like to go to Northern Spain doing an eating and cultural tour from Galicia to Catalunya. The inverse pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Galicia is famous for having the best shellfish in Spain and we would gorge ourselves on Oysters and the Spanish delicacy Percebes, which is a goose-neck barnacle and the Galician variant is so expensive I have never tried it. Other highlights along the way would include the Basque country's unsurpassed Tapas, a stop off in Rioja, walking in Asturias and the beautiful Spanish monasteries and towns of the north.

Ana is desperate to see the tomb of her favourite poet, Luis Cernuda, in Mexico City, so we would need to head there after our three months in Northern Spain. I would love to go back to Palenque in Chiapas and Tikal in Guatemala (both of which I visited on a gap year at 18) allowing us to explore the magic of Central America together. Perhaps we could settle in the countryside of Guatemala for a few months so I could finish and publish my novel, The Man whose Face was Grey (it's on-the-go and I will hopefully finish it by the end of next year) while living in relative isolation.

Then we would head to China where my brother lives and visit him. Something we've failed to do due to lack of funds but I guess this whole expedition of world tourism could be paid for using all the reserves we had in the bank. Exploring China, and Asia generally, would be an alien and novel way to enjoy the last few months of my existence.

Finally I would like to have a good reunion at the end of the 11th month with all my friends and family toasting the crazy joy of life and saying goodbye. Then presumably I would wallow in bed with requiem music playing, watching Bergman films and pondering with Ana why it all has to end.

Feel free to try this thought-experiment out but I have no intention of press-ganging or nominating anyone for fear of sardonic comments.


anticant said...

Sounds great, Toby. You are not going to die a year hence - I trust - but the point of this exercise is to say Why wait? DO IT NOW! You only have one life [as far as we know], and the longer you delay doing the things you really want to, the less likely you are to accomplish them. You are young, strong, intelligent, and ambitious: you will undoubtedly be able to recoup the money over the next two or three years. So pawn everything, borrow what you need, and GO. [Advice from one who didn't.]

anticant said...

PS And part-fund it by blogging during the trip and writing it up as a travel book when you return. There's always a good market for those.

Szwagier said...

What are you going to do during that time that you have long wanted to, but have been repeatedly putting off?

Commit suicide.

anticant said...

Well, if that's REALLY what you want to do, how are you stopping yourself from doing it now?

Szwagier said...

I allowed myself a moment of gallows humour at my own expense.

I don't want to derail the thread, so, briefly, it's the 'REALLY' that's the problem. Who knows? I certainly don't.

Toby Lewis said...

Cheer up, Szwag!

Thanks Anticant, good advice. Our plan is to go abroad at some stage. I'd like to build up some decent contacts with various editors over the course of the next year and then we'll head off somewhere. Perhaps to live rather than travel. The problem is we'd both like to do doctorates so if we were to put off being an adult professional until we are both around 30 I think many of those we know would think we were far from serious. Also, I'd quite like to have kids soon, so perhaps gallivanting around and spending the little we have may be slightly irresponsible.

Szwagier said...

I'm not in that much need of cheering up, but thanks, Toby.

It really was just a private joke to myself. Not sure why I had to share it with the world.

anticant said...

Don't bother with the doctorates, Toby. Just pompous pieces of paper which mean nothing to anyone else - nor to you - a year or two after you've gone through all the dreary slog of obtaining them. If you really want to be called "doctor", there are plenty of places on the internet that will sell you the title for a few quid.

[This raises the interesting question of what's a "real" and what's a "bogus" qualification? I have a friend - a clergyman - who is an expert on bogus ecclesiastical titles. An amazing pot-pourri of them there are.]

Higher education should be FUN, and it's best done by yourself off your own bat in the way you really want it. Learn about what INTERESTS you. When people realise that you know what you are talking about, they won't bother about what bits of paper you've got stacked away in the attic.

You are always responsible for yourself. So be responsibly irresponsible!

anticant said...

Toby, take heart. Blogging can be remunerative! See the following from Tim Worstall:

"Blogging has in fact proven so remunerative that we are moving from Lisbon to the Algarve. You will, in two weeks time, therefore be able to feel the warmer, sunnier electrons that make up this weekly blogfest."

So blog away, and off to Spain with you asap.

billstickers said...

1. There's no 'later'. What you dream of doing, are capable of doing, and what you would enjoy doing at, say, 24, will not be the same when you are, say, 25. You will change.

2. Unless it involves wrongdoing, regret is always reserved for what you didn't do.

3. Think back now (at least 5 years) and try to really regret a purchase you made or expense you incurred for something pleasurable but, more or less, ephemeral. You won't be able to do it 5 years hence either. You might wish you had that AND something else, but you won't regret the former expense.

4. Travelling is for the young. You can go when you're older but, like everything else, much of the magic is diluted by care.

5. One of you might actually die while you're waiting.

Go. Now. The point of getting the education was to have the security to do as you choose.

billstickers said...

You'll have noticed few last times lists from the older contingent. The fact is, with all the entanglement of people and responsibility, we couldn't just up and leave for Spain EVEN IF THE WORLD WAS ENDING! We'd require lots of permission from lots of people.

Be warned.

Toby Lewis said...

Thanks for the advice, Bill, I think we'll probably head off somewhere to live at the end of year that isn't Blighty.

Interestingly if we believe the environmentalists my holiday above will be / is regarded as wrongdoing. Adding to worldwide carbon emissions when I could have hung around in Brighton, being stoical. Perhaps this means I should go to live now in farflung destinations before fuel is rationed.

billstickers said...

Yes, but if you lived in Spain or Mexico you wouldn't have to burn fossil fuels for heating. The Brighton Stoics are doing for the icecap 10 months out of 12.

If you really want to help, stop eating cow (if you haven't already).

billstickers said...

Seriously though, at 24, you're walking along enjoying your Gulliver self, then you take a little nap and...