posted by Jeanne Munn Bracken
"But at my back I always hear Time's winged chariot hurrying near."
"To his Coy Mistress", Andrew Marvell
I admit it. I'm a Boomer, and our generation ain't getting any younger. Clever marketers have noticed that. We are daily bombarded with the "opportunity" to purchase long-term care insurance, retirement property in warm (or foreign) climes, and cemetery plots.
Despite more than a few creaks and groans in the ole skeleton plus a handful of other minor complaints, I don't feel particularly aged. Probably because I'm still waiting to grow up. But that's beside the point. A recent phenomenon has been marketing books to the aging population. I'm not talking about volumes on what to do when you're 60 or how to retire early. I have been struck by the authors and publishers scrambling to get to us before it's too late. Like, before we die. There are dozens of books out there now listing the things we should--no, must--see or do before we shuffle off this mortal coil.
I think it started with 1000 Places to See Before You Die (also available as a day-to-day calendar and a jigsaw puzzle.) I'd better get started now, because I have been here and there but not everywhere. Never been to Central or South America, Hawaii, Asia, Africa, Australia or Antarctica. Not even Windsor Castle. Even my guilt trips seem slight by comparison. On the plus side, of the 28 places listed in Germany, I'm well on my way with 11 checked off. As for the US and Canada, I hope to visit the Alaska ones later this year when we go to Bouchercon in Anchorage.
Otherwise, that's hopeless. Moving on, maybe I have a better shot at the art world. There's 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die. This weighty and colorfully illustrated tome insists I must gaze upon works of art housed in Italy, India, Mexico, Taiwan, Russia,Japan, Spain and Cambridge (the one in Massachusetts). And that's just for the pre-Fifteenth century works. I have probably walked past the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge hundreds of times but have never been inside. I suppose I could start there. I visited the Louvre a long time ago and, despite huge crowds of tourists, managed to see "Whistler's Mother" and "Venus de Milo". And what's that about all the paintings in private collections. How are we to manage that?
Moving on (so to speak). Firefly Books has a series of related titles but fortunately has not numbered them. Unforgettable Journeys to Take Before You Die is a colorful book describing thirty excursions. I have traveled extensively in North America and Europe, but the only one I've experienced is "Driving Through Fall Colours, USA" and maybe a tiny bit of "Driving Along Route 66, USA". The chances of my getting to Samarkand or Patagonia any time soon are slim to none.
In Firefly's Unforgettable Things to Do Before You Die, I can check off "Driving Californian Surf, USA", since our family followed the Pacific Coast Highway a couple of years ago on our most recent all-together-in-the-car vacation. While Mardi Gras might be a lot of fun and worth the trip, there is no way I'm heading out west for "Gambling and Glitz USA" in Vegas.
For the more sedentary or impecunious Boomers, there is 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Even here my performance is sorely lacking. I haven't even seen "Casablanca", and I was seriously underwhelmed with what some have called the greatest movie ever, "Citizen Kane." I ain't no intellectual. My favorite movie isn't even listed ("Dirty Dancing", if you must know. So sue me.)
An enterprising travel company could capitalize on this: combine the paintings with the places and the journeys and the experiences, factor in the birders' life lists with thousands of species still to be encountered, and market the resulting package tour to the masses.
As for us Boomers, aren't we the generation with all that oat bran and yogurt and jogging that's going to live forever? Personally, having seen what 100 looks like, I'm not all that interested in the Living A Long Long Time Sweepstakes. Still, even though I'm not planning to check out any time soon, I'd better get a move on. Starting with a fitness program. The seven books I've borrowed from the library to research this blog weigh a total of 15 pounds. Toting them back will do for today. Gotta start somewhere.