All That and a Bucketlist (no chicken)

Aluminum-Ice-BucketI recently discovered the Bucket List blog and was inspired by the story of a woman who decided that a “good enough” life really wasn’t. Instead, she wrote her bucket list and devoted herself full-time to achieving it. Since her bucket list seemed to include an awful lot of stamps in her passport, I immediately subscribed and began to study the blog for clues to answering the primary question in my life: how to pay for airplane tickets.

I’m not sure that I’m going to find the answer on that website. But lately I’ve been feeling an unnerving sense of urgency. Looming middle age has heightened my awareness that although time is infinite, my time is not. There are more fascinating cultural events than funds for babysitters. I will never read all the books; and averaging one trip every two to four years, I am not going to make it to all the places I want to see.

So it makes sense to prioritize. I’ve always tried to follow the line the mountain offered, and many of my greatest dreams have always been filed under “someday.” I also tend to focus pretty intently on one specific goal at a time. But I do like making lists. So here’s a first attempt at a lifetime bucket list, in no particular order, and haphazardly combining the dearest wishes of my heart with things I’ve always kinda wanted to do. It’s just what came out in a quick brainstorm, the deep and the shallow, and I’m sure that if I don’t forget about it entirely, it will change over time.

  • Learn to swim so that I can
  • Try scuba diving
  • Get comfortable on the blue runs
  • Read the whole classics list
  • Read the whole banned books list
  • See the northern lights
  • Learn a foreign language
  • Publish a novel (or many) the “regular” way
  • “Make my living off of words”
  • Live in a foreign country (no return ticket)
  • Grow a lush, fragrant native-filled garden (don’t cop out and lose interest mid-season)
  • Eat a diet of mostly food I grew myself
  • Wacken
  • Summer Breeze
  • Write like Lois Lowry or Steinbeck – prose that matters
  • Go on a yoga retreat, preferably in India
  • Earn a place at Hedgebrook
  • Byline in Rolling Stone
  • Byline in National Geographic
  • Snowboard in Europe
  • Weigh 125 pounds
  • Master Crow Pose
  • Fund travel out of something besides personal savings
  • Get a Snorri Sturluson fellowship in Reykjavík
  • Make hiking a regular thing
  • Camp without a car

You may notice that with the exception of some horticultural achievements, there is nothing domestic on this list. I think that’s because family goals are not the kind you can ever really check off. “Both of my daughters will be securely attached with high self-esteem – accomplished July 17, 2014.” Right.

I myself was surprised that there was nothing house related. Once upon a time, I’m sure that my list would have consisted largely of home repairs and antique purchases, or maybe an upgrade to one of those big old houses on Capitol Hill; but not anymore. I have long fantasized about sitting in this home office writing my YA post-climate change steampunk novel about a Chinese-American high school student who travels in a homemade dirigible to save an endangered plant back in China.


But the truth is, if someone gave me the $4,000 to buy it, I would have four plane tickets to China before COB. When it comes down to it, I know what’s actually important to me, and decor isn’t it. To me, a bucket list is for adventures.

That’s why travel gets its own list in a post coming soon. As I was putting this post together, I was surprised at how many of google results for “bucket list” were along the lines of “ideas for a bucket list.” I have a really hard time figuring out how I’m going to achieve the items on my list. But coming up with a list was easy. Do other people really go through life without a nagging sense of paths not (yet) taken? Are there people who think, “I should do something cool, but what?” If so, maybe I can start a consulting business writing bucket lists to help pay for my plane tickets.


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