The real souvenir


A selection of souvenirs from around the world

When I travel to other countries, I buy a lot of souvenirs. But not only the kind you would expect. You probably have been to another town, city, state, country or continent at least once in your life. If not, perhaps you have been a tourist in your own town visiting a famous site or discovering a place you had never been before.

Traditional souvenirs, the kind that has the name and perhaps a picture of the landmark, the city, state, or country imprinted, can be found everywhere. Souvenir shops are plenty around famous sites attracting almost every visitor and making it hard to leave without purchasing at least one item. I used to buy a lot of refrigerator magnets, which, many years ago, were more popular in the United States than other countries. Now they can be found everywhere. About twenty years ago, I started a collection buying one in each state I visited. I would return home and place them on my refrigerator. My first intention was to visit all 50 states. I had to because I wanted a magnet of each one of them. I did not want to ask other people to bring me one because that would have not been the same as visiting myself. Then I stopped collecting.

Although I have been fortunate to set foot on about half of the United States so far, I don’t believe I will visit each of the 50 states in this lifetime. I also have been lucky to visit many other countries of the world and once tried to create a map of all my trips. Knowing that my world map will likely never be complete, I stopped collecting magnets and counting states and countries. No offense, but, over the years, I have also come to prefer more useful souvenirs that I can actually use later on,  such as a mug for example. I also take on average a thousand photos during a weeklong trip. I love capturing the moment engraving it in our physical world to last at least a lifetime. Like the contents of a time capsule, such souvenirs are meant to serve as a reminder of a trip, an adventure, a vacation long gone no matter how many or few countries and states you visit.

Yes, I buy physical souvenirs wherever I go in the world. I also like buying clothes, food, and other things that people enjoy there. I love the variety that these things bring into my life instead of relying on local goods only. Bringing back everyday items feels like bringing a little of the everyday life of that place with me. My favorite souvenir, however, is something immaterial.

In addition, I fill my suitcase with memories. These recollections are intangible but last for eternity, longer than any magnet or mug. The experiences made on the trip such as sounds, scents, sights, and sensations, are imprinted in memory forever. They can never be destroyed, forgotten, discarded or left in clutter. Besides, whenever I find myself wishing to go on my next trip but find myself unable to go on one at that moment, I can recall these kinds of souvenirs whenever and wherever I like. I can always count on my memories of travels past whenever I feel like traveling again or long for a place I have visited.

Memories evoke a kind of gratitude that allows me to be thankful for these journeys and experiences. As you probably know, feeling gratitude in your heart makes you feel better, life in the moment, and look forward to your next adventure all at the same time. I hope that you will make many memories that you can cherish for eternity and hold on to until your next trip wherever it might take you.




Copyright © 2018 by Barbara Bullock, M.F.A., spiritual writer

Photo credit © 2018 by Barbara Bullock

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