Have you seen the movie Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson? It’s a story of two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die. Many people have bucket lists either in their heads or written on a list somewhere. So, in my turning-50, list-making process, I decided I wanted to make a bucket list as well, but of things I have done, as well as things I’d still like to do. We should all celebrate our accomplishments as well as setting goals for new achievements.
Let’s start with this photo. Skydiving has probably been my biggest fear-conquering, adrenaline-pumping achievement, other than having children and actually giving birth to living beings, but I wouldn’t post a photo of that.
I remember when my friend Kim and I decided to do it, (skydive, not give birth) we were in our early 20′s and thought we were invincible. i sometimes wish that I still had that sense of invincibility, but that is the tradeoff for having children, I think. You are never invincible again, they are your eternal vulnerability.
In any case, Kim and I went skydiving together, one of the things that binds us together as friends, forever (that and an Alfa Romeo incident).
I have a few select memories from that day. I remember sitting in the aircraft and joking that as a flight attendant (at the time), jumping out of a plane was a very unnatural thing to do. I remember jumping and then falling and then looking up at my chute and thinking (in s-l-o-w motion) “I’m falling and I’m falling really fast and my chute’s not opening!” Then, I think I reached up and uncrossed my straps as they had taught us to do, in case they twisted while opening. Thank God I was paying attention! I also remember sitting at a bar later that evening thinking, ”Wow, I went skydiving. If I can do that I can do anything!” I realize now it was an adrenaline hangover but at the time I really believed I could do anything.
I took flying lessons once, I logged 15 hours of flight time and passed the “spiral dive” test which involves the instructor putting the plane into a spiral dive and watching how you react. I guess I didn’t over-react so I was allowed to continue my flight school until my money ran out.
I went white-water rafting on the Ottawa River with my airline friends. It was a blast and the instructor was pretty hot and probably took my mind off the chilly, cascading waterfalls swirling around me. I actually remember the party at the club afterwards more and I think his name was Lawrence.
Travel has probably been the most consistent thing in my life. From when I went to a birthday party at the airport when I was 7 years old, I have had an almost insatiable wanderlust. I say almost insatiable because at this point I think I’m getting close. I have traveled to 40 countries and will continue to add notches to my travel bedpost. It was my journalism professor who made me count them up once. On my resume I had written “I like to travel” or something as equally descriptive. He suggested I spell it out for prospective employers. ”Traveled to 40 countries and 6 continents (no immediate plans for the 7th).”
Sounds a lot better, right?
I hiked on the Great Wall of China, one of the “new” seven wonders of the world after attending the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Quite different from the Montreal Olympic experience I had with my parents in 1976.
We flew in a helicopter over a live volcano in Hawaii and saw the red lava flowing into the sea. Somewhat irresponsible parenting should the volcano have to decided to erupt.
I worked for an airline in Saudi Arabia and flew the pilgrims to Mecca for the Haj, their journey of a lifetime.
I trekked through the jungle on an elephant in Thailand, with my two year old son. Also, kind of irresponsible now that I have watched Water for Elephants and realize my elephant “driver”" probably had very little control over his mount (and was more interested in my 13-year old daughter and how many elephants he would need to marry her).
I drank with a Saudi prince, well, aren’t they all princes in Saudi Arabia? And I think they’d probably drink with anyone, so I am not sure this is much of a feat. But I also watched my husband dance with a Japanese princess. This is much more of an accomplishment, both in the rarity of hanging out with a Japanese princess and the fact that I let my husband dance with another woman.
My first article was published, borne out of the creative eruption I experienced after the March 11 earthquake in Japan.
I enjoyed a misty morning coffee on deck of an antique junk in Halong Bay.
Add in a little Parasailing in St. Martin, climbing Mount Fuji, sailing in the Canary Islands, three immediate family member deaths, two marriages and one divorce, and that pretty much rounds out the first 50 years. The next 50 remain to be seen. Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives. (Alan Sachs)
The future will unfold as it should. But if I can make a few suggestions, this is how I would like it to unfold.
- Publish One Book
- Drive Route 66 in a convertible and write about it.
- Develop an Internet Business
- Go on an African Safari
- See the remaining “New” wonders of the world -
- Chichen Itza, Mexico – Mayan City
- Christ Redeemer, Brazil – Large Statue (include a visit to Rio and Carnival to knock another one off the list)
- Machu Picchu, Peru
- Petra, Jordan – Ancient City
- The Taj Mahal, India
- The Great Wall, China - done
- The Roman Colosseum, Italy – done
And finally, as my mother (and Bon Jovi) used to say, “I want to live while I’m alive and sleep when I’m dead.”