When I read the news that they had replaced the Seven Wonders of the world with a new list, like most of you, I was first curious to see what they had selected and eager to check how many of those Wonders I had seen or I should place on my Bucket list – sort as a checklist of things we can notch on our life belt. As I read through the new list : http://www.new7wonders.com , I started to feel melancholic at the thought that the first 7 ones were being replaced. That’s when I started to wonder: Is Seven Enough?
Why do we have the urge to replace and dispose of existing things when we want to add new ones on the list?
When we look at how the world turns in turmoil – or when we look at all the horrors and pains people suffer through in countless parts of the planet- when we look at the hardship of women in Afghanistan – the sex trade of children in Cambodia – the physical abuse that cowards inflict on others – Don’t we need at least a 100 Wonders to make-up for the daily horrors?
How many Wonders do we need to vote on the list in order to appease the dehumanization of a society that let a 2 year old toddler dying on the streets of China? How many Wonders shall we claim in the news to make us forget that a woman and her accomplices in the USA kept mentally ill people in an inhumane basement cell to collect their social disability check (an additional 50 people are missing). In both these cases, I wished for them to die; the poor little girl to be spared from a life of vegetative state and the Philadelphia woman because not only does she deserve to die, but she has lost forever the right to live in any world.
So why keep it at only Seven Wonders when today’s world beats 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with hardship. Give us at least one Wonder per day to be marveled about in order to counterbalance the daily bad news.
So allow me to make my first contribution and I challenge you all to add your grain of salt at the end of this post. So here are my 7 Wonders to add to the new Seven and the old 7 which makes a total of 21. Tomorrow, we will start the day with a new total of 21 wonders to look forward to, the equivalent of three weeks done and 49 other to fill-up.
There are no hierarchic preferences in my list below:
1. True Friendship
What is more wonderful than having true friends for decades and although you don’t see them often, sometimes with gaps of years, you start your encounter as if we had talked yesterday. I am fortunate to have several of these true friends, including my family, the ones I would never let go of – that are not judgmental – or try to play the guilt trip – or have sentiments of jealousy, envy or worst, opportunistic fake friends. The true ones are simply pure hearted friends that don’t demand much, but give so much in return. I believe they would say the same of me.
When I saw my friend Diane in Bali after 6 years,we sat at the restaurant and just lived the moments for 2 days – when I hopped on a plane to Côte d’Azur (from a business trip in Belgium, just in case you wonder) two weeks ago to see my dear friends Richard and Christiane, we again simply started where we had left off 6 years ago and the world seemed magical. When my longest standing friend of 32 years, Sue, came to Singapore last summer, we were both ’30’ again and simply continued our wonderful journey together as if time had not altered us in any way. The same goes when seeing or speaking to Nicole, with whom I never want to hang-up on Skype, and often wonder how I survived so long without speaking to her or seeing her.
The amazing thing is that I keep on adding extraordinary people on this list for the past ten years; Marie-Laure, Pauline, Bob, Jennie, Lorainne, Marjorie, Roger, Suzanne, Nikki, Tanya, Daniela and so many others (terrible to have started a list because I would need to continue for too long to list you all and others would get bored, so please don’t feel insulted if I stop here). To all of my very good friends that I need multiple hands to count them on, including family, to the extraordinary people I am fortunate to have in my life, your love and friendship is my special Wonder!
To me, planes or should I say flying is an extraordinary Wonder that allows us not only to explore the world, but to open doors of our lives. What is more magical than to hop-on and hop-off an airbus to go live a moment with dear friends, to conduct business in any parts of the planet, to relax on an island beach with your loved ones or discover other Wonders that you capture with your camera hoping to never forget the emotion, that special moment!
What can bring more magic than leaving home after work and be able to have dinner in Thailand or Bali in less than two hours, for less than $200 a ticket? What is more awesome than looking at your passport, flipping through the 48 pages while reading the different stamps? To me, the sound of that ink stamp that a custom officer robotically applies on a page, clicks open a door of memories, of souvenirs. How cool is the thought that I can hop on a plane and have breakfast in Sydney before going to work! Yes, to me, walking in a plane is opening a door to life and for that reason, it makes the list!
3. The Sea!
We often name land or monuments as Wonders, but what about the sea? If the Amazon forest has made it to the top of the new 7 Wonders’ list, the sea shall have a well deserved place on my list. The oceans and the seas are home of some of the most majestic creatures small and big – are the reasons we exist and nurture life. The sea is a Wonder to look at from a shore – helps us see far and dream while showering us with unimaginable powers and beauties. It is a playground, a source of inspiration and pleasure, both above and under.
Yet it is so powerful and unpredictable that at any given moment it can furiously remind you that you cannot dominate it or master it. The sea is the essence of life and is one of the rare elements that can proudly say to have it all in one. For that and more, it makes the list.
4. The Canadian Rocky Mountains
You all know by now that I have travelled the world and hopefully will continue to do so. I have seen a lot of natural Wonders and still remain in ecstasy before a small flower, but when I think of the ultimate beauty, the one that made me feel the most humble in life, I think of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I have been to the Rockies in numerous occasions, and each time I experienced an overwhelming feeling of Grand Beauty and humility at once. Every time I see the Rocky Mountains I think: There ought to be a God or a superior being to have thought of such Wonder.
The imposing, yet refined and majestic beauty of the Rockies are only matched by its capacity to savagely make you regret you tried to conquer it, to dare it and to ignore the warning signs. The Canadian Rockies bear enough unexpected marvels and sights to cure any negative thoughts or sorrows in someone’s soul or to make adventurous adrenaline junkies feel content. Yet, just like the sea, never forget that it can and will whip you into misery if you dare to confront it unaware of its God like powers. For its extreme and unparalleled beauty and power, the Canadian Rockies have been in my top Wonders of the world for decades and yes, I did go to Queenstown in New-Zealand, had a peak at the Himalayan in Nepal and went a few times in the Alps.
I know that for most of you, the disastereous floods in Thailand are one of the news you glimpse at in the morning or at night, but for my friends and colleagues in Thailand, there is no escape. Yet, the extraordinary courage and positivism of the Thai people is an amazing Wonder on its own.
-I will use my brain to find ways to survive this, said my friend Ning in Bangkok, this is something I have never used my brain for so it should be interesting and I will learn from it. Another colleague said: The water has invaded the first floor of my house, but we move everything to the second floor so we should be OK.
Let me stop you for a moment. The water under which the Thai people have been flooded for over 6 weeks now is the awfully dirty waters of the Chow Praya river, mixed with the sewage of the city, including all chemicals and garbage that cut loose. Rats, poisonous snakes, crocodiles and other sort of animals are either climbing for survivals or escaping their surroundings to establish their new water kingdom. Disease, fungal infections, rotting walls and furniture is facing, with devastation, the Thai people as they will need to live for months in unthinkable conditions while reconstructing their lives.
Yet, their creativity and beautiful smile lifts them up every day to try to conquer the elements – build bridges and sidewalks out of shopping carts – sitting in an internet cafe with water to the waist to communicate with their loved ones – walking out of their house wondering how they will go through the day, but never forgetting to make an offering to Bhudda. It is only the beginning of their hell, because when the water will retrieve, in a month’s time, the magnitude of the horror will be exposed. I already know that Thai people will all join forces courageously to make life as normal as it can possibly be. They will have lost their cars and most possessions, they will try to fight diseases and outbreaks, they will fight to restore their life and go to work, but will keep their legendary smile.
By now, I will remind you that you already forgot the courageous Japanese people who are currently, after 9 months, still cleaning up the damage of the earthquake and Tsunami in order to perhaps one day find life normal again. Life is also not back to normal for many in Christchurch. Because we forget so easily how much courage it takes to help others in distress, survive and rebuild our lives after such devastating traumas, I place courage as one of my seven Wonders!
6. New Zealand
Yes, I did say that the Canadian Rockies beat the mountains of Queenstown, but New-Zealand as a whole is an extraordinary natural Wonder. New-Zealand is the only place Pierre and I went and said: This is it, let’s buy a house and live here forever! This country has so much to offer, so much visual beauties and natural untouched resource, the waters are so pure, the sky so blue and the landscape so diverse, that exploring these islands is a heavenly experience.
The only reason why we did not buy a house and moved there is because of my Wonder number 1: Friendship and family! New Zealand is one of the farthest places to reach from America and is pretty much remote from everything on the planet, so that would mean to cut too many ties, which we are not ready to do. Yet, it does not mean that it can’t make the list of my personal Seven Wonders.
7. Angkor and the Cambodian people
I do not know of a person who went to Cambodia and visited Angkor and did not say: It was extraordinary, yet after two days were “templed out”, because there is so much to see! I have never met someone who spent time in Cambodia and did not feel transformed from it, sort of a spell that invades your soul and stays engraved in your memory. I’ve never met a human who did not get moved by the eyes of the Cambodian children who smile at you with kindness and sadness, often because they already have seen more than they should. I have never talked to travelers who visited Cambodia without them saying that they have to return. For this great civilization that once existed and for the unearthy kindness of the divested young people of the country, you derserve a place of honour in my list.
Now go ahead, it is your turn, add one or two Wonders to the world at the end of this post. Actually add more than one because today I learned that an egg farm called Sparboe in the USA lost MacDonald as a client due to the undercover report of a group of animal activists. The cruelty that was inflicted to the chicks for fun and disregard is unspeakable. Coming from a USA based farm is even more of a shame – they cannot blame lack of education or ignorance or evolution, we can only blame sick human behavior. They deserve to be shut-down for ever.
Thanking you in advance for adding a Wonder for this one!
For the good news: My Fuji Xerox Twins Campaign won a Global Pearl Award in New-York on the 7th of November. You can see the short 3 minute video at: