It’s become the norm for middle-class Westerners to compose lists of places they want to see before they die, and the things they want to experience. Well, I dunno. I think I’m too old to do that. For the fifteen years after I left Australia at age 23, I tried to see everything that I wanted to see and to do most of what I wanted to do. I didn’t call it a “bucket-list”, just a “before-I-go-home-and-settle-down” agenda.
There weren’t many specifics on the agenda. I didn’t set out to see the Acropolis or the Bolshoi Ballet or Lincoln’s Memorial – although I did mentally tick them off as they came by. I didn’t go looking for a girl to drift through the Middle East with on ten shillings a day, and later marry. These things just happened. I’ve never been an ambitious fellow, and it’s too late to start now.
I didn’t plan to manage the Chamber of Commerce in a Caribbean tax-haven, persecuted by the local political and bureaucratic establishment. (How would you plan something like that?) It wasn’t by design that I became the grandfather of three Scandinavian kids who speak English only on sufferance.
Ross was conceived in Indonesia and born in England. We happened to be on vacation in Java, from our jobs in the South Pacific; and England was where we planned (!) to acquire a Kombi van that would take us down to the caves of Crete – as told in A Young Man’s Car in September 2013. Ross just happened to be within two months of being born when we hit England. (And he was in the van when the trip to Crete was aborted a year or so later.)
He and I bonded during my five years as his “parent of first resort” – a house-husband – between the ages of six and eleven. I never planned to become a house-husband. I certainly never expected to love a child with such fierce passion as I did (and do) my son. That was scary, and amazes me still – especially since I was absent in spirit for much of his babyhood. He was Linda’s decision, not mine.
We (he and I) pretend to believe in Loki the Norse god of luck, and remind each other that Loki has to be treated with caution and care. There’s no malice in him, only caprice – but he will withhold help if he’s disrespected. One has to meet him half-way: to hold oneself in a state of readiness for the goodies to come. The Boy Scouts motto “Be Prepared” is the same thing, of course. They must secretly believe in Loki, I think.
The three of us all have enough memories to carry to our respective deathbeds. The other two still have things to do and places to see; they have their bucket-lists. If I die first, Linda will probably go and live in Thailand; she’s been there a couple of times, and loves it. Ross has a hankering to spend a year in India, once his children are old enough to live their own lives. I’m the only one that has no bucket-list, no personal end-times agenda.
There are places I wouldn’t mind visiting, or visiting again, and old friends it would be lovely to spend time with. But I don’t believe that memories carry beyond the grave, so what would be the point?
There are things I would like to know, before I go. Every week brings newly published facts and theories about old and current history, and the development of words. Will my theories about the ancient Hebrews ever be proven correct? (The Children of Israel in January 2012, and later posts on the same subject.) And my theory that almost all European surnames are clan-names in disguise? And did the CIA really kill JFK and Harold Holt the Australian Prime Minister? Did the US authorities have advance knowledge of 9/11?
But in the end, it won’t matter to me. If the cosmos is truly infinite in all dimensions, as my friend Gerry and I used to debate (Unfinished Business, June 2013), then those uncertainties will be resolved in some alternative universes. If the cosmos is not infinite... well, never mind.