I thought this was actually closer to 25 years ago, but I made the trip just after the birth of my youngest daughter, who turned 21 in February. So it’s a nice feeling to know that perhaps not so many years have got behind me as I imagined, and yet, I think of all that’s happened in those years.
Getting to Egypt was something I’d wanted to do since I was very young. I developed a fascination for it quite naturally. Mummies were a staple of the Saturday morning cartoon adventures I watched. They inhabited the comic books I read. And of course, there was a whole sub-genre of old monster movies about them. And then there was King Tut, one of the first true media spectacles with a scientific or historical basis.
As with many things we experience as children, an interest in the fiction evolves into a similar interest in the underlying fact. I became very well read on the culture and history of the ancient Nile civilization. I still probably have more texts on it than anything else in my moderately sized library. So when the opportunity came to actually go there, I seized upon it.
It was luck rather than planning. The company sent me to Alexandria, which while in Egypt is a very much more modern city. Its roots are Greek, of course, and even it’s ancient wonder the Pharos has given way to a medieval Arab fortress. It is a Muslim city and a Mediterranean city, with only a little trace of it’s more ancient heritage. If I were to get to Cairo, or if I would be lucky enough to reach further up the Nile to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, it would have to be on my own limited free time and scarce money (with a newborn at home). And I wracked my brain the entire journey there.
But I was lucky. The customer I was sent to visit was both a kind man and deeply proud of his Pharonic forebears. Once he learned of my interest and respect for “the old country” he set about arranging for me to visit Cairo, the pyramids of Giza and the Egyptian Museum. It was serendipitous, because I’d never have afforded it, and I’m sure that I’d have always resented being that close and not getting to make the trip.
This is the sort of thing people nowadays call a “bucket list” item. That’s there was a movie, and the term was used, and somehow that became a thing. I don’t have a bucket list. I have things that I’m interested in. Today, tomorrow, a year from now, 21 years from now, those same things may not interest me. So I don’t build my moment around the idea that there’s a finite list of things I have to do before I expire. I also have found as I’ve gotten out away from the fairly insular rural world of my childhood, that some things I thought were fascinating and important are really not, at least to me.
In the 21 years since I stood before the Ancient of Days I’ve raised two brilliant and creative daughters. I’ve worked with a number of creative people and explored art, photography, film, and now music in ways I had not imagined before. I’ve also discovered that “gee, I’d really like to do that someday” is no substitute for “Let’s go do that!”
No guarantee you get someday. While you’re busy making that list, you may not see the train that’s coming straight for you, and then you’ve done nothing but make a list. Go live. It’s more important.