Thursday, January 03, 2013

Day 3: Bucket List

I haven't yet seen the movie which made the phrase "bucket list" popular. And I struggle when I think about the concept of a bucket list for me, because in truth, most of the things in my life which I would want to put on a bucket list, I have already been blessed to experience.

Editing an award-winning college newspaper? Check. Canoeing Minnesota's Boundary Area Wilderness with my dad, my brother, and my kids? Check. A summertime tour (with my daughter) of multiple countries in Southern Africa? Check. Fishing in the Alaskan wilderness? Check. A summer leading a cutting-edge missions team in the Caribbean? Check. "Inventing" the internet (and social media too) for World Vision? Check. Living in a very comfortable home in the woods (in the most beautiful state in the Union) and enjoying the companionship of wild deer? Check. Marrying my high school sweetheart and the most beautiful, wonderful woman I have ever met? (And those are the same woman, in case you're wondering.) Check. Playing with my unbelievably sweet granddaughter? Check.

I had lunch with a good friend at World Vision the other day and he asked me, "So, what are your dreams?" I guess this is like asking, "What's on your bucket list?" I told him most of them had already come true. (Then he sort of looked at me a bit sadly, as if to say, "So, does that mean you're done now?")

No, I'm not done, as far as I know, anyway! There are a few dreams that remain. But, I'm incredibly grateful for the life God has given me, and perfectly prepared to accept the possibility that at least some of these may never happen. But I can still dream ...

I've coauthored three nonfiction books, but since I was 20 I have dreamt of publishing a successful fiction book that touches people's hearts and lives. I attempted this in my 20s, spending 5 years writing an expansive (600+ page) novel. And I worked just as hard to sell it to publishers. I received encouraging feedback from those who read it. (Now that digital self-publishing is here, perhaps I should try again?)

And I haven't attempted a similar work of fiction since, though I have probably 20 years' worth of ideas in my head. I have always been an avid Sci Fi fan, and believed that the best kind of science fiction is the kind that only Christian writers with an eye to a wildly hopeful future can craft. A few examples of such writers exist, and they are of the ilk (like C. S. Lewis) that I could never hope to emulate. But ... one can dream, can't he?

I've enjoyed playing acoustic guitar since college, and have also recently taken up mandolin and electric guitar. But for years I've dreamed of learning how to play the piano and really learning music theory. So put becoming a virtuoso pianist on my bucket list as well.

And then there are the simple things. Travel is one. I've traveled a lot, but not as much as I'd like to. My wife is a homebody and that puts something of a straitjacket on this particular bucket list dream, but some day I would love to get an old Airstream camper and just haul it around to all of the most remarkably and lovely places in continental North America, and perhaps beyond, which I have never yet seen, stopping at each to smell the roses a bit before scampering on.

And I might be in my 80s or 90s by then, but in my perfect bucket world I would haul my mountainbike along behind my Airstream and do some wicked downhill cycling through some more of America's most beautiful mountainside forests, while I was at it. In fact, I've also often fantasized about riding my road bike from here to Alaska, camping along the way and making friends with grizzly bears ...

... then, there are the really simple things. Despite the fact that I work on a computer all day, I love tinkering with stuff around the house. I'd love to add an upstairs deck to the south-facing side of our bedroom, and turn our studio apartment into a music studio. Finish my treehouse out in the forest, and add a zipline. Etc., etc. ...

... I had been yakking on for quite awhile about such nonsense, when my luncheon friend politely allowed me to realize he was really talking more about my PROFESSIONAL dreams ... at World Vision, that is! And I do have a few of those as well. But, given the fact that I'm still a good decade or two away from retirement, I have no doubt I'll be able to get to those soon enough! So, we'll just call those trade secrets, for the time being. :-)

So, what's on your bucket list? And what (if anything) is stopping you from pursuing those dreams?

5 comments:

Kristin Mahoney said...

I don't know if I really have a bucket list, though I did make one once. On it were a few things I never thought I'd actually accomplish but yet already have: playing a Stradivarius violin, going skydiving, and playing in a Major League baseball stadium (okay, well a AAA stadium that is used for spring training, but I'm counting it). There are also a couple of things I might never have the chance to do, such as flying an F-14. The rest are forgotten, still on a list that is probably somewhere in a dusty box in a garage in Indiana or Washington.

A couple of things have come to mind, though, recently. I'd love to improve my musical skill enough to be able to lead a worship service. I've never been able to play piano (or guitar) and simultaneously sing without severely compromising the quality of the instrumental playing or the singing (usually both). I hope to change that. I'd also love to take some Bible courses at a Christian college. I'm really not sure what intensity of coursework I'd like to pursue, but there is an introductory adult Bible certificate program offered through a local Bible school that I'm really considering. It's affordable and would probably work with my schedule- something to think about. After I completed that I could look into further coursework. In the mean time I'm digging into Genesis with a couple of commentaries and a half dozen translations of the Bible at hand to see what I can learn on my own.

In a totally different vein, I've long dreamed of hiking the entirety of the Pacific Crest trail in a summer. Given that my husband does not love to camp I don't know when that dream can happen. I do have a detailed day-by-day itinerary planned out should I ever get to go, complete with daily mileage goals and possible camp sites!

Also on my list- writing something publishable. The only problem with that one is that I'm not sure what I'd write about. : )

Larry Short said...

Wow, Kristen, you reminded me ... that's actually one of my dreams as well, hiking the Pacific Crest trail. I think that would be fabulous. Perhaps someday we can get a group of thrillseekers together and all take a whack at it.

And re. writing, I have no doubt you have lots of interesting things you could write about. You could start with a comedy called "Life With Merl," for instance!

Thanks for reading!!!

Jackie said...


I also have bucket list. My list, I think, is a bit more, well, "woo-woo" than most peoples'.

The list (which is indeed a physical list, I started it when I was fifteen) has been updated/amended at least four and a half billion times as I've gotten older, met goals, changed priorities, and let opportunities pass. There are several things on it that would make absolutely no sense to anyone but me.

Right before I got married this past fall, I got out the old spiral notebook containing my "list" and fondly looked it over, contemplating on how my goals and dreams have matured.

Many of the goals listed there were (and still are) fairly concrete: When I was fifteen, I wanted to be a famous opera singer and learn how to drive a motorcycle. Today, I want to become at least proficient in the Russian language and visit St. Petersburg someday, in addition to learning how to make my own barbecue sauce.

A great deal of my bucket list contained goals that are more, well, "meta-physical" in nature. A few are just downright odd; not even I can remember what they were exactly referring to! For example, one of my goals was (and still is) "to always forgive as God has forgiven me" (I still find myself struggling with forgiveness after eleven years), another (which is, hands-down, the weirdest goal I have on my list) was "I want to grow up to be the big Matryoshka".

I wrote that goal just as I was about to graduate high school. It's been so long since I've seen the "Matryoshka" goal that I honestly can't remember what on God's earth I was talking about...perhaps I was writing about my hopes of being a mother/grandmother? Maybe I was just feeling poetic? I dunno.

Perhaps I can add "understanding my own bucket list" to my bucket list!



Larry Short said...

Thanks, Jackie! I'm laughing about the "big Matryoshka" goal. That's a new one on me. I need to research the word!

Jackie said...

A Matryoshka is a Russian nesting doll :-)