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Published: September 30th 2017
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Who is Ernestine Ulmer? Even though a very famous quote is attributed to Mr. Ulmer, most people have never heard of the man, myself included, until I recently Googled his well-known words. "Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." So simple and somewhat funny, but those are some of the most profound words ever spoken in the history of mankind, particularly for North Americans, where the rat race is a reality of everyday life.
It's a reminder to live for the moment, something which we all need to hear every so often as we are busily working away in our cubicle farms, oblivious to the World passing us by. It also became something of a theme for this trip, as we crossed off item after item from our bucket lists. Truth be told, as this trip began, I had serious doubts as to whether or not it would be possible to actually come up with a different bucket list item for every day, but the task proved to be surprisingly easy.
In fact, the whole concept of a bucket list for this blog was validated just under two weeks into the trip, while we strolled around the Meatpacking District, during our last
night in Copenhagen. That area is known as being an up and coming neighbourhood, slowly gentrifying as more and more fancy and funky cafes and restaurants sprout up. One of these places was the Mandela Cafe, which we happened to pass by and notice their blackboard, with Mr. Ulmer's famous quote scrawled across it, screaming out to us.
Everyone has their own set of beliefs, whether they are religious, spiritual, or something else - when it comes to this sort of thing, I really can't say I have any sort of belief, though sometimes I do think the Universe gives us signs. The Mandela cafe wasn't the first time I've come across Mr. Ulmer's quote recently - the first time was several months ago, as I was back in Calgary and driving to the funeral home, to make arrangements for the passing of my dear granny. Even then, I took it as a sign for this trip, a validation of the risk that I was about to take.
I had decided to do this trip long before my granny's passing, but seeing those words on a restaurant billboard during that time of grief reinforced what I needed to do. So it was
Cheaper Than Baku ...
... while I'm not a fan of Starbucks and try to avoid them while in Canada, when in Europe I like to convince myself that somehow the local equivalents are superior, and have no trouble grabbing something there. A decent cappuccino with some pre-packaged yogurt made for an acceptable first breakfast at Heathrow airport, and the lower prices here were a refreshing change from the gouging in Baku's centre.
quite amusing to come across those words yet again, halfway around the World in Copenhagen, so far removed from that moment of sorrow. Perhaps it was all just a matter of coincidence, but perhaps it truly was an instance of divine providence - it's impossible to say, but seeing that quote once more was another reminder of why we were there.
So eat dessert first we did, both literally and figuratively - bringing ourselves to the brink of diabetic comas as we sampled as many pastries as we could in Scandinavia, and inhaled as many pieces of baklava as we could in the Balkans. We lived every moment to its fullest on this trip, and returned home with countless memories of an unforgettable experience, one that in many ways, wound up being a sort of tribute to my granny. Because, if you can't eat dessert first after the loss of someone special, when can you?
The Summer of George is now officially over, marked by a return to an unseasonably cold and snowy Calgary, a freak surprise summer storm that dumped up to 35 cm of the white stuff in certain parts of town. That was definitely a snap back to
I Love Boots ...
... grabbing food at the ubiquitous chain of drugstores has become something of a tradition when passing through London. It started out as a necessity years ago, to save a bit of money while passing through expensive London - a pack of sandwiches, a drink, and a side or dessert for only about $7 is as cheap as you can get in London. But the more I eat of this stuff, the worse it seemingly tastes - now, I only eat here because it's become a sort of backpacker comfort food to me.
reality if there ever was one, especially having just been in hot and humid Baku just a little over 24 hours prior. But the crazy weather wasn't the worse part about coming home - that would be starting the painful process of getting re-acclimated to the real world, and beginning the search for a new career.
Everything good in life eventually comes to an end, whether you want it to or not, and usually, you harbour regrets for not making the most of the opportunities or the time that you had. Dwelling on such things is rarely constructive or healthy, so it's important to keep looking to the future, no matter what you may have lost. But that's not to say that we shouldn't remember and honour the past, lest we all forget to live for the moment the next time the opportunity presents itself.
With the theme that we followed for the past few months, picking a song that was representative of this trip was a no-brainer. My granny will always be with us in some way, so I can think of no song better to honour her memory than with a little John Legend and Lupe Fiasco duet, and a tune called Never Forget You. While I'm at it, I'll throw a little love at my gramps too, whose time also came far too soon, over fourteen years ago.
While my religious beliefs are still basically non-existent, I'd like to think that if the Universe is a just place, somewhere out there, my granny and gramps are finally back together. Of course, whether or not such a place truly exists is somewhat irrelevant, because if you never forget your loved ones, they will always find at least one place to exist - and that's in your heart.
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