Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Memories of Italy

A couple of years ago I went to Italy on a vacation. The country was incredible, steeped in history and beauty. While we saw some very special sites, one of the very interesting things we did, and an experience that stands out for us,  was seeing the beautiful island of Murano near Venice. This very beautiful quaint island is known for one thing - blown glass. Who hasn't heard about Murano Glass? We went to a factory and watched a man create a beautiful piece of art. He was in his 70's and had learned his trade as a young boy. He truly made it look easy but clearly his 'art' was something that took many years to perfect. The show room, was nothing short of amazing, filled with so many different items hand crafted with pride but, the fear of it breaking in transit, deterred us from buying anything substantial. At the time, the person giving the tour told us that there were few factories like it left because of the machine made replicas offered at a much cheaper price coming from other countries.

This weekend there was an article in the paper about this very island and the dying art of making glass. It sounds like the situation has worsened since we were there and frankly it was sad to read. To truly understand the loss, one would have to see the island and fantastic items that are made there. These people are true artisans who pass this gift down through their families, from one generation to the next - yet it is becoming increasingly difficult to make a living at it .

We are now in a world of disposables. A world of  dollar stores, electronics, fast food and a love of 'sales' . Hand made art is rarer and rarer to find and is clearly not appreciated by as many as it should be. The next generation of people in Murano, will not learn this skill and will not want to. And so in a short time, this art will die. I will treasure the few small pieces I bought, just as I treasure my memories of that trip. For those of our readers who are planning a trip to Italy , I encourage you to take a side trip to Murano and bring home an authentic piece of history.

Happy Holidays to all of you. Wishing you all a peaceful and warm holiday season making special memories with family and friends.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Do you have a bucket list?

The older I get, the quicker time seems to pass - and the less adventurous I become. The saying "youth is wasted on the young" rings truer now than it ever did for me. When we are young we don't think of our own mortality and seem to think that the years in our bank of life are endless. I suppose we are more daring, more willing to try things because of that. Most do not have a concept of their 'must dos' before they are too old or sick to do them. So, after reading an article earlier this week about making a bucket list, I began thinking about the whole concept of having a 'things to do before I die' list. Once I got past the idea that it is a tad morbid, I started wondering about why someone would want to make a list like this. Those that talk about this tend to be well past 'youth' and looking towards retirement. Is it a sign of a life unfulfilled? Or a need to feel young and vital? Or a fear of death itself or not living your life to the fullest? Could it be a bit of all of those things and more?

 I wonder if the idea of a 'bucket list' excuses us from living in the present, from enjoying today, because we always assume that 'tomorrow' we can do what we didn't have a chance to do today. But what if there aren't enough tomorrows to do what we want to do? This concept of a bucket list only works if we are fortunate to live a long and healthy life, and in some cases have much expendable income. Lately I have heard so many stories of people who didn't live until retirement or if they did were not healthy enough to enjoy it that it gets you wondering if we aren't going about this wrong.

Rather than a 'bucket list' should we not be thinking about living in the here and now? If life is about the journey and not the destination, shouldn't we be worrying more about our experiences throughout our lives rather than waiting to cram them all into the last few years?  And how many things on a bucket list are more about the people you are with rather than the experience itself? I wonder if we should be encouraging our children to set small goals every year - pick one thing you want to do and work toward achieving it - so that they don't have a mile long list of things they want to do before they die when they may not have the time left to accomplish it. Rather than having a bucket list, maybe the goal should be NOT to have one, not to need one, and not to want one......