Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bucket Lists

I quite like the idea of a Bucket List. It's a simple enough concept: you take a sheet of paper and jot down all the things you want to do before the old grim reaper comes a-knocking, and then you try to strike off as many of those goals as you can in the time you have left. I suppose it offers a kind of focus if you happen, as I do, to suffer from wandering-aimlessly-through-life syndrome.
As I am thirty-four years old and have ambitions to live to at least my late nineties, my Bucket List will probably run to several hundred pages. And it would be full of the usual things too: visit the South Seas, crack time travel, criss-cross America in an open top Cadillac, write the book that I know I should write but somehow can't, get to outer space, shake hands with Bob Dylan, discover the perfect pickle, master the penny-whistle, maybe even learn how to juggle. On my deathbed, I'd like to be able to say my goodbyes in twenty-seven languages.
The problem is actually writing down such hopes and dreams. They glitter in my mind but on paper they seem staid. And writing them down seems to carve them in stone. What am I really saying, and what are these longings saying about me? Supposing I can't achieve all the goals, supposing penny-whistles drop out of circulation or I develop some sort of inner ear problem that effects my balance in a way that makes juggling out of the question. Suppose I do meet Bob Dylan and he simply refuses to shake hands. Will that mean that my life has been one great failure? No, writing a Bucket List seems like too much of a commitment, I think. Besides, I'm thirty-four now but who knows what I will want at forty-four, or ninety-four? Maybe at ninety-four the extent of my dreams will stretch to a comfortable rocking chair and a bladder that works only when it should. Our goals change all the time. The achievement, I think, is in accepting what we have and who we are ...

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