Friday, July 22, 2016

Roads not only less taken, but not even open anymore

Had a strange experience--for the first time--the other day.

I was looking through old books, and I came across a small, as yet unread, collection of works on Central Asia.  I had spent a week in Kazakhstan about 10 years ago (and my wife spent the summer there in 1994).  I was also, at one time, a political scientist studying and teaching on comparative politics.  After visiting, Central Asia moved up my list of topics I thought I'd like to know more about.  I even imagined the different ways I might get back--some sort of short-term teaching or mission trip.  And there were opportunities.  I know folks who do that kind of work in various parts of the region.  I even made some enquiries.  And the first step in all this was to buy some books on the this case, the region.

But as I looked at those books, a new and odd sensation came over me.  I leafed through one and consciously thought, "You're not going there.  That's no longer available, because you've got other priorities and opportunities.  You can't do everything you ever wanted to do, after all." 

As I put the books in the "sell" pile, I could palpably recall the thoughts and hopes from earlier years.  "I want to go here, and I want to do this and that, and, and...."

I've done plenty.  And there's plenty I'll never do, but would be pleased to have done.  And there are some remarkable things I've gotten to do that I would never have imagined.  So, I have no need of a bucket list.  I'm sure I wouldn't put together one that created anything but the most temporal--in both senses--satisfaction in me.  Further, to think I could "construct" some sort of experiential delight would diminish the essential joy I've had in all the things I have done...even the ones that weren't so enjoyable at the time, but fundamentally constitute the breadth of my life.

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