I have always been most at home when I’m on the move. Maybe it’s a genetic holdover from grandparents who hopped a ship as teenagers to go live in a different country. Maybe it’s because I moved a lot as a kid. Maybe it’s because I find ultimate freedom and happiness behind the wheel of a car with a full tank of gas and an unfamiliar horizon.
So it should be no surprise that my plans for the afterlife involve a little sightseeing.
Actually it’s part of a diabolical plan for my kids after I’m dead.
I don’t want to be buried – especially in some polyester-lined airtight shiny veneer box. It slows down the reincarnation process and there are too many trees, eagles, fish and flowers my molecules plan to inhabit to be stuck in an airtight prison for the first 500 years.
So I’ve got this plan. I have an evolving list of 10 places where I would like my ashes scattered. They are all places that I have been (or will have been), and my hope is to leave enough money for my kids to travel to each of those places to drop a little of me. Of course, I don’t really care if I’m dropped there, but I would like my kids to see through their own eyes what I consider the 10 most beautiful or peaceful or meaningful places on earth for me – and hopefully build the same appreciation for them.
Personally, I think everybody ought to have such a list. It could include the backyard under the shade tree, a peak along the Rocky Mountains, a quiet cove on the Bay, or a favorite walk in a local park. But I think one of the best ways to really get to know – and to remember someone – is to understand where they were most happy. And I for one would rather my survivors visit my memory not in a crowded field of plastic flowers and depressing stones, but a hidden meadow, a mountain ridge, or a deserted shoreline.
Some of my 10 places are of epic beauty, and some of them are so subtle that it will require some quiet reflection by my kids to figure out why I picked it. And of course I hope to get them to all 10 with me before I’m being carried in zip-lock. In fact, just last summer after a hike of several miles I sat quietly with my daughter in a particularly favored spot at the top of Virginia’s Grayson Highlands before leaning over to her and saying, “This is one of my 10 spots.” A tribute to her sense of humor that she knew exactly what I was talking about when she smiled and rolled her eyes. But I know for sure that long after I’m gone, she will remember that favored spot. And if I’m lucky, one day she may tap some ashes out of an old recycled Tupperware container and tell that funny story to her own kid sitting next to her.