Bucket list

In 1998, at the age of fifteen, I started compiling my bucket list. Written on a twice-folded sheet of notebook paper, it fell out of one my old journals the other day as I was searching for material for an upcoming appearance at “Mortified.” On the outside fold I had written My Life’s To-Do List in capital letters, and included this faux-legalese preface: Subject to updates at any time. Items may be carried out at any point in time, whether I’m 19 or 90 years old. Items may be, and in some cases are recommended to be, carried out more than once.

Inside is a list of thirteen items. Most of them were written at the same time, but judging by the slight change in penmanship, I think the last two were added later. Then, using a different pen, I’d begun putting stars next to the things I’d achieved. After a quick update to account for the intervening years, I can report that my current stats include 4/13 items completed, 2/13 partially completed, and 7/13 incomplete. The list is mostly modest and eminently doable, especially this contingency-laden goal: “Take my kids (if I have any) to Yosemite (if they’re interested at all).” Apparently, I’m off the hook for that one if my future children disdain the idea of seeing one of our most beautiful national parks.

Here are some successes that my fifteen-year-old self would be proud of.

Learn to play the piano (really): Partial credit earned for the piano classes I took in college. I took two semesters’ worth and did well, but never continued practicing. Full credit may be earned if I ever decide to buy that keyboard and starting re-teaching myself what I’ve forgotten.

Visit Hawaii: Full credit for my visit to the Big Island in 2008. I blogged about the trip.

Own a work by Ansel Adams: Full credit, possibly undeserved depending on your perspective, for possessing a framed print of “Moon and Half Dome.” My parents gave it to me many years ago, and it still features prominently in my home decorating.

Take an early morning or late evening walk or jog along the beach: Full credit for one of the most mundane life goals that has ever been written. I lived on the coast of northern California for seven years; I’m sure that at some point, I was present on a beach during the dawn or dusk hours.

Create a website: Full credit for the personal website I launched about a month after writing this list. Among other things, I used it to write about my obsession with Third Eye Blind, recap episodes of “Felicity,” and share my rudimentary animated GIFs. A later incarnation of the site exists, in fragmented form, here.

Hike along the coast: Partial credit for fulfilling the letter, but not the spirit, of this objective. Again, note the fact that I lived on the coast for several years, and that technically speaking, hiking did occur. But I think that I had in mind a day-long trek along the bluffs, or a multi-day backpacking journey. Perhaps I’m being too modest by giving myself partial credit, but I don’t think I’ve been ambitious enough in this regard.

These days I’m not into making bucket lists, or making New Year’s resolutions, or reading books like “100 Places to Visit Before You Die.” (Why is the word die always in those titles, anyway? The condition is implied.) I don’t need discrete, arbitrary goals. I’ve realized that the only thing I really need to do is stop putting roadblocks in the way of what I want to do.

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