Start working on your bucket list today
You can learn a lot about people from examining their bucket lists. If participating in Hell’s Gate in Tuscany, Italy, one of the world’s most difficult enduro races, or heading to Cocos Island, Costa Rica, to swim with sharks is on the list, you know this person is the adventurous type.
Romantics will continue the quest to connect with their soulmate. Philanthropic spirits may include items such as “establish a school for the arts in my hometown” or “create a rescue center for stray cats” on their lists, while those who crave a legacy of fame and fortune want to land their own reality t.v. show, or star in the next Judd Apatow box office hit.
And then there are the people who embrace and appreciate life’s simple pleasures. Their lists consist of “have tea with a friend at least one a month” or “install a pond in the backyard, and ducks will soon follow.”
We’re thinking about bucket lists in this first week of 2013 as an alternative to the traditional New Year’s resolutions. By focusing on long-term goals, we’re asking ourselves, “ What do we really want to accomplish in our lifetimes? What kind of legacy do we want to leave for our children? And what things will we regret not trying?”
With this in mind, we’ve begun penning our bucket lists, and dreaming big. Following are partial lists of what we each hope to accomplish (someday) and we invite you to start dreaming up your list, too. Throughout 2013, we’ll check in with progress updates. While some of our dreams can be scratched from the list relatively quickly, others may take a lifetime to achieve.
— julie imel
I thought about what I would include in my piece of the ec and dc bucket list story for weeks. Since my co-workers keep a running list of food I haven’t eaten (i.e., I avoided Pop Tarts until I was 25 when some helpful soul at the office insisted I try one) and other activities that just haven’t come up for me (such as camping), there was a lot to ponder. Is it really important to me to revisit why I hate shrimp cocktail in this lifetime, or to go an entire weekend in the great outdoors without indoor plumbing? Umm … no. I don’t think either of those would really make me a better person or add anything to the greater good of the world. In fact, forcing things like that could actually have a detrimental effect on the universe. Either of the items mentioned above could result in projectile vomit. (Don’t ask).
So, with no further adieu, here’s the start of my bucket list, in no particular order. Wish me luck:
1. Expand my culinary abilities: learn to bake bread; learn to make pulled sugar; become a chocolatier.
2. Buy a lake house.
3. Revive Santa’s World. Local kids in my generation have great memories of visiting this magical holiday wonderland. This was a lovely project hosted by the Junior League of Scranton. I’d love to help bring it back.
4. Open an old-fashioned department store reminiscent of the Globe Store.
5. Write a book.
6. Plant a butterfly garden and a rose garden.
7. Travel to Hawaii, France, Ireland, Wales, Germany and Austria.
8. Finish my family tree. This one is already in progress due to the efforts of my siblings and my mom.
9. Learn to speak French fluently.
10. Go back to school.
11. Create an electronic file of family recipes.
12. Learn to roller blade. I was the self-proclaimed queen of Skateaway as a kid. Does this mean I’ll be able to roller blade as an adult? I need to know.
Earlier this week, scholars at Lake Superior State University Michigan’s released its annual list of useless words. One of the words the school wants “banished” from the English language in 2013 is bucket list. A bucket list is a personal list of an assortment of things people wish to do before they become worm food, also known as “kicking the bucket.”
“This one has got to go,” says University spokesman Tom Pink in a recent conversation with CNN. “There was a time when it could mean something like climbing a mountain. Now a bucket list can include less-lofty pursuits, like catching a two-for-one sale at the mall.” Well, well Mr. Pink. Aren’t you so special?
I’ve climbed some mountains in my days and I try to stay away from shopping malls as much as possible. Although this is by no means a complete bucket list, this little glimpse into my head may help you see where I might be heading in the future. Before my time on Earth is done and I am nothing but a pile of sarcastic ashes, I, Thomas E. Graham, will:
1. Drink a beer and a shot of whiskey in Ireland.
2. Eat fugu in Japan. Fugu is a Japanese dish prepared from the meat of the pufferfish (the second most poisonous animal in the world after the “Golden Poison Dart Frog”). Expert preparation is required because of the fatally and lethally poisonous nature of the dish which can poison and potentially kill. There is no antidote. That is so badass.
3. Hold a record in the Guinness Book of World Records.
4. Catch a home run ball at a Philadelphia Phillies Game. Preferably catching a ball hit by the Phillies, but I’m ok with catching a home run ball by a visiting team and throwing that sucker back onto the field.
5. Write books. Write a children’s book, a graphic novel, a memoir, a collection of short stories, or possibly an assortment of rants full of expletives, insults and other silliness.
6. Visit every state in the United States of America. I need 24 more.
7. Enter and compete in an Air Guitar contest. I don’t even have to win.
8. Learn more about my ancestors. My family tree is utterly unknown to me; it’s actually a stump. It’s kind of embarrassing, but I hope to hit the books someday and learn more about the men and women who walked the earth as a Graham well before my grandparents.
9. Score a hole in one on the golf course. If you’ve ever seen me golf, you know this may be a nearly impossible feat.
10. Attend a live taping of Saturday Night Live in New York City. I know it’s not the show it used to be, but it’s something I grew up with and Lorne Michaels’ show is embedded in my DNA.
11. Form a barbershop quartet when I turn 60. It will mostly be alternative rock songs and old school rap cuts, but when you hear four old men harmoniously singing “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A, I guarantee you will be moved.
12. Brew a batch of good beer and share it with good friends. Hopefully the beer will contain enough alcohol to make your cheeks rosy and your night blurry.
They say time speeds up as you grow older and accumulate experience. At the same time it seems 40 years can pass in the blink of an eye, all that living can wear you out. We’re clearing away the cobwebs of discouragement and fatigue this New Year and taking a deep breath of optimism. Why make resolutions for only one year when the next decade will pass in the time it takes you to read this story? It’s time to think BIG.
If I learned anything from scanning other people’s bucket lists, it’s that I need to better appreciate what I’ve already done.
I’ve taught myself how to do things I thought were beyond my ability. I made art and sold it. I’ve won grants and a fellowship. I’ve traveled back and forth across the country multiple times, lived on both coasts and felt the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans wash over my feet. I’ve sung and danced on stage. I’ve danced naked in the rain. I’ve been published. I reviewed a Broadway play. I was yelled at by Edward Albee. I appeared on national television. I’ve marched in protests.
I brought two daughters into this world in natural childbirth with the help of midwives and raised them largely on my own. I’ve been married and divorced. I’ve fallen in love more than my fair share. I’ve experimented. I’ve been reckless. I’ve done things you will never see in print. I’ve done things I will never do again. I’ve learned from my mistakes. I have made a difference.
Some of the things I thought I always wanted just aren’t as important as they used to be. Do I really need that Ph.D.? These days I’m not so concerned with proving myself to other people. I’m more interested in spiritual pursuits than the pursuit of pleasure. My list looks something like this.
1. Go on (at least one) writing retreat.
2. Finish the first draft of my latest play White Matter Surplus before the end of 2013; have a play produced outside of Scranton before the end of the decade.
3. Bring local theater back to downtown Scranton and make it stick.
4. Experience live theatre in the great cities of the world.
5. Live in a comfy little cottage so deep in the woods it’s like a fairy tale.
6. Get thee to a Zendo; Find my sangha.
7. Vacation at The Black Sea.
8. Finish half the books I’ve started reading. Start half the books I still want to read. Re-read the top ten.
9. Step four.
10. Learn to play a couple dozen songs on the ukulele and play at least one out in front of a live audience to appease The President of My Fan Club (he knows who he is.)
11. Make a profit at one thing, if not the other.
12. Book a sleeper compartment in a train to Montreal or New Orleans. OK, both.
13. File/organize the life’s worth of papers stuffed into boxes all over my house so that I can make some use of the damage I’ve done.
14. Visit my daughter’s tattoo shop on the beach and watch her surf.
15. Help my sister get her artists’ colony/totally awesome self-sufficient farm-based property up and running.