There has been so much disturbing news lately -- mass shootings of innocent people, the killing of a beloved lion by a trophy hunter and several elephants by poachers, the terrible release of 3 million gallons of water loaded with heavy metals, a deputy sheriff executed as he pumped gas -- that I want to write about something silly for a change.
In general, I am not a collector of things. In fact, I have been getting rid of things -- clothing, shoes, books, housewares, you name it. I have given away a couple dozen books, several CDs, piles of clothes and shoes, and boxes of housewares. I am always looking for more things to get rid of.
I used to buy a T-shirt from places I visited, but that practice stopped years ago. Now when I travel, I try to buy a coffee cup reflective of the new place I am visiting. Because I travel a lot both domestically and internationally, I now have quite a large collection of coffee cups. And I don't even drink coffee!
I do, however, have a cup of hot tea every morning as I read the daily newspaper. And using one of these cups from a place I have visited brings back memories of that place. For example, the cup I bought at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw reminds me of my trip to Poland, including the somber visit to Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps, and to the wonderful city of Krakow. My mug from a mosaic shop in Jordan reminds me of the visit to Petra and lunch with Bedouins. I have cups from Russia, Hungary, London, Kenya, from all over, even from the Russian cosmonaut training center in Star City. I also have cups with wolves on them, and others with dogs, reflective of my love of these species. One even has a photo of one of my golden retrievers who died years ago. Each cup has a story and a memory of its own.
Some day, when I'm too old to travel or when it becomes too difficult to fly to the other side of the planet, I hope these simple, utilitarian items will continue to remind me of the amazing places I visited, the memories I made and the people I met. In the meantime, I look forward each morning to drinking my favorite tea from a cup filled not only with hot tea, but also with memories of places visited.