Haven’t you noticed the current trend in book publishing these days? You know, the proliferation of book titles that start with 1,001?
If you haven’t, then chances are, you’ve not been out and busy! Shame on you. You’ve not been seizing the moment as you ought to — well, as far as the Bucket List-type of writers and publishers are concerned, that is.
Let’s see what types of lists you should know (and have) before you die. There’s this 1001 Places to See Before You Die (clearly a spin-off of the old bestseller 1,000 Places to See Before You Die). This is a location-based list that has led to more specific listings of must-visit places such as 1,001 natural wonders, 1,001 historic sites, 1001 gardens, 1001 buildings, and so on.
There’s more: 1001 movies to see, 1,001 albums to listen to, 1,001 books to read, 1,001 foods to eat, 1,001 recipes to try, 1,001 wines to taste, and — get this — 1,001 golf holes you must play before you die.
Presumably, these massive lists are made to motivate people (read: the moneyed hedonists) to pursue their passions and celebrate life in the now; no use in regretting the past or worrying about the future. Life is meaningless or incomplete if you haven’t ticked off the boxes in your chosen 1001 list.
What’s with the 1,001 anyway? Why not just 100? Or better yet, a realistic 10, given the current economic gloom? Maybe it’s because using 1,001 as part of the title in these guidebooks makes great marketing. It has a certain ring to it. But 1,001 seems a bit overwhelming, don’t you think?
Will a fiftyish movie buff, for instance, be able to watch all the 1,001 recommended films in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die before he/she meets his/her Creator? And is it that easy and cost-effective to get hold of copies of The Exorcist (1973), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and The Hills Have Eyes (1977). Ah okay, there’s YouTube, where you can have a look-see of some film clips of these must-see movies. Which leads to the question: Why are they in The List in the first place?
Given you have the will (and insanity) to watch all the listed 1,001 films, are you sure you have the luxury of time to see all these cinematic treats in one lifetime? Don’t you have to take care of the kids and do some laundry in between? Or go to your chemotherapy, perhaps? And yeah, aren’t you supposed to be at the the Great Wall of China or Robert Louis Stevenson’s home in Western Samoa by now because you also bought that 1,000 Places to See Before You Die book?
But as they say, let’s seize the pleasures of the moment and never mind the dull routine that has been slowing us down. Carpe diem. That seems to be the guiding philosophy behind the 1,001 book series.
And so, when you meet again your pleasure-seeking friend, who has been pestering you with impromptu life evaluations — i.e. critiquing the drudgery of your everyday life with “You’re missing out” nonsense, followed by incessant Carpe diem lines — tell him,/her that you can’t be his/her traveling companion on call a la Morgan Freeman in The Bucket List. You just don’t have loads of time, and the clock is ticking. By the time you can say “yes” to any proposition to travel the world and behold the sights, you would probably be dead. As dead as Prince Tutankamon.
After all, you, being the Renaissance person that you are, have yet to read 1,001 books, watch 1,001 movies, listen to 1,001 albums, and try out 1,001 recipes before you can embark on 1,001 once-in-a-lifetime overseas journeys only Oprah and her kind would be able to afford.
So much to do, so little time. Oh, this pre-death pressure can be darn overwhelming.