Friday, June 28, 2013

When dying, only your memories are with you

The crater at Volcán Poás was magnificent.

And so humbling.  Feeble and powerless we humans are--with all our technology, we are no match for the natural forces.

There was a faint trace of sulphur in the winds.  We lucked out without rains and clouds.

I lucked out this entire trip.  I, like most humans, take the time to complain about the hassles, minor and major, but rarely ever pause to appreciate how much I have and how lucky I am.  So, let me tell you again: I am one incredibly lucky guy!

"I am in Costa Rica and looking at a volcanic crater" I reminded myself.

In a way, that reminder was also necessary given the number of American tourists all around me.  "Where is your group from?" I asked the woman standing next to me.  "Wisconsin" she said.  She was one of the parents along with a group of about twenty or so high school students.

I walked up to Roberto and Luis, who were from Mexico and part of the same package tour with me.  They are now doing their residency after medical school.

"Do you guys travel a lot?" I asked them.

This was Luis' first trip outside the country, and that too because of Roberto's stories.  It was consistent with their respective personalities--Roberto is a lot more outgoing and animated than is Luis.

"Even Mexicans with money don't travel much" Roberto said.  "They don't know how to travel."

Roberto is on to something at a much younger age.  With every trip, I seem to be learning more and more about how to travel.  If only I knew better when younger!  My life would have been so much easier if only I had any wisdom when I had all the energy and youthful enthusiasm.  Even the little bit of wisdom I have has come a huge price of baldness!

"Do you travel alone all the time?" Roberto asked.

"Ever since the divorce, yes."  I paused for a second to figure out how much I should let him into my world.  "I guess it will be better with company.  But ..."

We play the cards that we are dealt.  As an airline stewardess remarked during the flight back home, what other options do we have but to play those cards?

"My friends buy cars, or buy clothes, and that is what they like to do if they have money" Roberto continued.  If not for his occasional struggle to get the right English words, I bet he would be one proficient conversationalist.  I am sure he is quite a talker in Spanish.

I agreed.  I showed him the shorts that I was wearing--it is frayed in more than a couple of spots, with threads dangling, and more than one small hole.  "I don't care about this.  I try to save a little bit of money so that I can travel."

"Yes.  When you are lying nearing your death, you cannot take your car or house or clothes.  You have only your memories with you when dying" Roberto said.  El sentido de la vida es vivirla was what Roberto had later noted in his Facebook post.

Life is, indeed, about creating and sharing memories.  Some memories that we try hard to forget.  And some memories that are so wonderful that we worry we might forget them.

As I lay dying, I hope that the memories I cherish will be far greater than the ones that I will regret.


Ramesh said...

One of your wonderfully wistful posts.

Yes, memories are all we have. And who says memories dull with age. Actually they get sharper. Which is why I don't own a camera :)

And yes, travel is one of the most wonderful of experiences and even though I am travel weary now, recognise it as one of the greatest gifts I have been given thanks to my job. A real traveler is a very different person from one who stays put. Its a recipe I would strongly recommend to every young person - go see whatever you can of the world before you settle down to a job, family, etc etc.

Sriram Khé said...

I suppose those that we want to remember become sharper in our memories because we airbrush the others off ... thankfully, right? If not, we will be carrying with us a whole lot of excess baggage!

Ah, come on, how can one live without a camera? It is wonderful to be able to look at the images from the past. I am sure you do enjoy looking at them, which means cameras have made a big difference to your life too. You are just being lazy--you want to outsource that to somebody else, while you watch the ballgames on TV ;)

Yes, the young ought to travel and understand the world. But, often, they don't seem to travel to undrestand as much as they travel to simply enjoy and have fun as a tourist. That might not meet the goals that you and I have in mind. To each his own, I suppose!

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