Take a moment to shut off your social media. Think about what really matters.
Try this exercise: go to news.google.com and type “Airstream obituary” into the search bar. Then take a few minutes to read the summarized stories of Airstreamers who have gone before us.
I did this and was surprised at the impact that it had on me. At the time I was having “one of those days” in which a steady stream of bad news had rained down on my head.
The day started at 6:00 a.m. with the realization we’d sent out an email to thousands of people with a bad link, and it just spiraled away from me after that. Bad news about an elderly relative, difficulties with the bank, unexpected interruptions, toner ran out in the printer in the middle of an important document, problems with staff and vendors, general uncertainty about this and that … You get the picture. It just wasn’t going to stop being a Monday.
And then, around 1:30, in the midst of a rapidly-growing funk, I spotted this in a random obituary that turned up in one of my Google searches:
… and suddenly things began to fall into perspective.
My mother died this year. My mother-in-law will likely die this year. I’m going to die someday (hopefully not soon). Nobody except Benjamin Button is getting younger. When I’m very old I will not care about the “Mondays” I’ve had. I want to be able to look back on a life of adventure and exploration, full of memories of people and places that taught me things.
When I die, I want people who knew me to be able to say something like what they said for Eva Richardson of Warrenton VA, or Frances Davidson of Charlottesville VA, and many other people I read about:
“He enjoyed traveling in his Airstream all over North America.”
Look at Peter and Doreen Clark of Rome NY. They got married when Doreen was 62 years old, and promptly took off for a cross-country trip in their Airstream, followed by many other travels for the next 13 years. I’ve never met them but I think they might be new heroes of mine.
I’ll let some of the others speak for themselves:
Here’s the one that really tugged at my heart, the dual obituaries of Art & Marvene Elliott:
Art died at age 99, on September 17, 2020. His wife Marvene died the very next day.
That’s a romantic story and I love it. We could all aspire to be in love for seven decades and travel in an Airstream. If we all aimed for goals like that instead of focusing on demonizing each other over politics, I’m convinced the world would be a better place.
Try it yourself. Just spend a few minutes reading about the Airstreamers who have gone before us. I don’t think there’s any way you can do that and not realize that whatever happens today, there are more important things for you to be thinking about.
I especially like this last one, about Sidney R Klein. He sounds like a guy who knew how to spend his life.
Way to go, Sidney.