Thursday, June 17, 2021




     Perhaps like you, we have seen the Mona Lisa hanging there in its place of honor in the Louvre. Our modest world travels have included a pilgrimage to what some accept as the world’s most perfect painting. We have been there and done that. So what do we have to show for it?

Truth to tell, our personal rendezvous with Leonardo’s masterpiece was a rather hurried moment, played out in a shoulder to shoulder crowd….all of whom were straining to capture a glimpse of the prize.

As I recall, in my artistically-illiterate eyes Mona was a bit smaller than  I expected. True, she did seem to be smiling at me….though Roma was just as certain she was the target of her attention.

I suppose there were a few visitors in that tourist-laden crowd who had come to seriously study the subtle, yet apparently powerful elements of that masterpiece. Would they be able to accomplish that in those circumstances? I don’t know.

I am, however, quite certain that most of us Mona Lisa gawkers were there because we had been told we ought to be. After all, it was famous…. something we would probably never see again. Then, having seen it, we could check that box and move on to the next “big thing.”


Bear with me for a moment as I revisit that time, that highlight of our continental travels…..or more accurately, my memories of that brief moment in a long life.

It was a sunny September morning. Everyone around us was upbeat and eager to begin their great art adventure….the world-renown Louvre. I remember standing in line waiting for the doors to open. (They were late opening that morning.) We had studied our Rick Steve’s map of the sprawling building….planning our route through the dozens of galleries to see what we had been told were the best sights.

And then, in a matter hours, it was over. Having seen what we wanted to see, our investment of time, anticipation, and attention had produced our own very personal return…..a collage of memories we hoped would last a lifetime.

That, it seems to me, is the reality of the wanderlust and travel urges I have never outgrown. Truth is, the places, people, and things we see along the way are invariably fleeting experiences. Rather than the sights and sounds themselves, lasting travel success depends on the memories, photos, souvenirs, and friendships we create along the way….the reminders we bring home with us, the ones we can revisit anytime in the future. Bottom line…..the most successful travel is a mental exercise….as good and lasting as our memory.

Be it the Mona Lisa, the Eiffel Tower, a dreamy Rue Cler dinner, or Yorkshire vistas that take your breath away….in every case the moment itself is transitory. Yet though we may never return there again in person, its impact can last a lifetime.


So why do we travel? What do we hope to gain or achieve? What is it we bring home from those travels? And what do they mean…..the memories and mementos of our time abroad?

More to the point, at our age why would the two of us even consider another round of extended travel…..the ten or twelve week adventures that worked so well for the younger “us”? What would we hope to gain this time? Is there something new to be learned, a reason to go again?

I still have those moments, you know….when I can visualize the two of us doing that again, driving the backroads, doing our age-appropriate “wild and crazy” things. Yet, that hazy vision is quickly coupled with so many reasons why those once-appealing possibilities would not be such a good idea at this stage of the game.

Some of the possible deterrents are practical matters…..sitting quietly through a ten-hour transcontinental flight is probably beyond me. The notion of a new and different bed every few nights has lost its appeal. Extended walking tours are out of the question. 

Beyond those physical limitations are the more subtle reasons. Anymore there are not that many things we want to DO. Instead, we have grown more interested in observing what goes on around us, soaking up the feel and mood of a place and its people. Those mental souvenirs, along with reminding photos, are what we would hope to bring home with us.

Is that enough to fan even the most modest dreams of traveling again? A review of the pros and cons seems to weigh against that.

Instead, why not return to our own earlier travels….the albums, notebooks, photos, and mementos we have of those times. Why not take the time to milk the feelings and memories of remembered times, as seen through our now-older eyes, and filtered through our now-older minds

Seems to me that approach would allow us to side-step the limitations of the “we” we have become, while allowing us to view our old travels on a new screen, complete with new, more mature insights


Here’s the deal… is lived in our minds. That was true at twenty-five or thirty. It is even more true at eighty-four. The travel we love and look forward to, no matter what the destination, is a mind game….to be lived and relived in our consciousness… thoughts, memories, and daydreams.

If that is so…..why should we subject our aging bodies, so ill-fitted for the rigors of modern-day travel, to demanding flights, strenuous excursions, constantly changing accommodations, etc.

Why not simply send our mind, our consciousness, on the “trip of our dreams”? With generous assists from our photo library, notebooks, YouTube, Google, and other internet resources we can capture the good things we hope to experience, while saving the wear and tear on our aging bodies.

Why not return to our own fruitful past….even flesh it out if necessary ….to create the mind-dwelling future we dream of.