There’s a catchy song going round at the moment – by Asaf Avidan – containing the refrain: “one day, baby, we’ll grow old, think of all the stories that we could have told.”
Take it or leave it, I’ve always felt there to be immense appeal, and need, now and again, for a carpe diem type of call to action. Time waits for no man. You are only young once. Just Do It.
We live in an era of 24/7 availability and connectivity. Of twittersphere brevity. Of mouse click transactions, and downloaded lifestyles. Today’s children will know very little else, growing up as they will do surrounded by technologies whose sell-by dates will have expired halfway through the journey from their Chinese factory origins, to the shelves from which they will be sold.
Does this excite or exacerbate you? And what does it matter anyway?
This time last week I climbed Machu Picchu, the world famous Inca heritage site in Peru, and spent a large chunk of my Tuesday soaking up dizzying views of Andean mountains, valleys and indigenous life [I left my own technologies behind for the day, although did take the photo above with a crappy old camera].
My first time to Peru, and the experience was a memorable one. Cultural nuances, tasty foods and drink, a different pace of life, language, and a wonderful and striking mixture of old and new.
We visited museums crammed full of perfectly crafted 2-3,000 year old ceramic pots. Watched old ladies in bowler hats, with long plaited jet black hair and bright patchwork skirts, potter down the streets of Cusco. The same streets that offered up Starbucks coffee, wifi connections, and the busy patter of tourist feet from all around the globe, each of whom had made their own pilgrimmage to walk around one of the world’s most decorated and illuminating historical locations.
In addition to reflecting on how fortunate I was to have spent time in Peru, it was, as ever, a privilege to discover again that it is adventures like these which can perfectly punctuate the daily routine of life, and lifestyle.
Not so much carpe diem, as placing your senses in “record” mode, and soaking up the buzz and sensations of exploring new surrounds.
This was no different for me on this particular trip either. Thirty hours travel to reach Lima from Saigon, twelve hours time difference, and I was plunged into a new world.
All at once, there is an intensity and a lucidity about breaking away from your normal routine. Perhaps not so much about reinvention (a concept this blog set about to explore) but about reacting to the feeling of striding out – off the plane, down the cobbled street, through the markets, up the mountain paths – and placing yourself in amongst all that is unfamiliar.
I would commend to anyone the breath-taking hike up Waynapichu mountain, to then gaze down on thousands of years of evolution and architecture below. Machu Picchu was buried for generations underneath a canopy of forest, and would be lost again in a matter of weeks if there were not 1,000 people marching up each day to capture the magic of the place.
If Peru is too far away, then there is always a well made “pisco sour” to be sampled (a Peruvian delicacy of a drink which you could re-create in your home).
And, in the absence of that, then switch off your ipad, your laptop, your PC. Dispense with your blackberry, and your facebook update for one day, and take a walk somewhere new. Open up to what you find there, and how it makes you feel, and, just for a little while, forget about everything else on your to-do list.
In the meantime, here’s that catchy song (which I know at least one of you will enjoy)