/ MBA: Alex Sutherland obituary
A varied and full life.
Quite agree - a man of some gumption. Do you think that things have changed over the last six decades, so that although we have greater access to travel and leisure time, the opportunity for life-long adventure is actually curtailed?
We see a number of obituaries, in the veterinary press, of old characters who went off and did stuff in far-flung corners. Sleeping sickness research in Africa, or malaria in Asia. All that's gone now, creeping imperialism and hometurf wars being distant memories. Life was tougher, but less complicated: I wish I'd been in practice thirty or forty years ago.
Not sure! There is certainly less to discover as in unchartered lands but with so much conflict, there are many places where chaos still reigns and in those spaces, I am sure, adventure could be had, if not exactly of the kind most people would look for.
Maybe with a lot of people there are more convenient distractions and more choice close at hand now and less drive to get away?
I think that's the point: if I wanted to climb Mont Blanc next week, as an absolute novice, a modicum of effort and a credit card would do it; contrast that with looking out of a bomber in wartime, setting a personal goal and then motorbiking halfway across Europe on back roads to just have a bash.
You *can* work with wildlife in Africa - provided you're prepared to donate a grand and two weeks out of your busy backpacking schedule. Even VSO is somewhat stage-managed. Those big, meaningful adventures have gone away: what are our obituaries going to look like?
However, often following such ponderings, I am reminded of the saying,
"May you live in interesting times".
It seems this is an English expression purporting to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. Despite being so common in English as to be known as "the Chinese curse", the saying is apocryphal and no actual Chinese source has ever been produced. The nearest related Chinese expression is "ÄþÎªÌ«Æ½È®£¬Äª×÷ÂÒÀëÈË" (n¨ªng w¨¦i t¨¤ip¨ªng qu¨£n, m¨° zu¨°lu¨¤n l¨ª r¨¦n) which conveys the sense that it is "better to live as a dog in an era of peace than a man in times of trouble."
The potential for adventure seems to have an inverse relationship with civil order, prosperity, development and peace.
They are still to be had, although will be different, it is a different world. Plenty people still doing extraordinary now and I'm not necessarily talking about the ones with websites.
So no one is out delivering aid in Syria or Afghanistan? Or wintering in Antarctica to do scientific research? Or sailing small boats to difficult places?
Yes, of course they are - and your examples aren't even the most inspiring. There'll always be people out there doing Great Things with their lives (and, inevitably, heading for awesome obituaries).
But the sense of adventure in just being in out-of-the-way places has been eroded by the ease in which we can now get there, and the ubiquity of the internet, coca-cola and tarmac. The world was bigger and more mysterious in the immediate post-war years.
Not so much making an argument as expressing admiration for Mr Sutherland and others of his time and ilk.
That's the cliche, but I'm not sure it's true. Just because we can fly around the world in a day or so doesn't make certain places inaccessible. You can't walk into a Haitian slum, northern Syria or a biker bar quite that easily, and whilst you might argue this is a different sort of inaccessible, you'd have quite an adventure getting there (and back). And to some extent, this is how it's always been. The Victorians (or rich ones, at least) could go all over the place but the border of the Raj stopped at Peshawar for pretty much the same reasons that stop you and your butler from riding horses from the Khyber to Kabul.
This lament is rather "Midnight in Paris" ;)
Oh yeah, all those guys were hugely impressive. But that doesn't mean people aren't being impressive nowadays.
The Vet Record obituries are clearly the best bit and as you say very inspiring - mine would currently be proper boring hmmmmmm.
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