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My Very Own Bucket List

From the humble to the immortal.

Let’s start this week with a one-question, multiple-choice quiz.

In a recent publication of The New York Times Magazine, Viggo Mortensen waxes poetically, and a bit sententiously, about his earnest desire to:

a. someday win an Oscar,

b. live forever,

c. meet his biggest fan in Belmont – that would be me – or

d. reprise the role of the dashing Aragorn in the yet to be created movie, The Reign of the King of Gondor?

Much to my chagrin, the answer is neither c. nor d. but rather, b. Yes, to live forever.

Viggo, in speaking about his mortality, said: “I know I’m not going to get to all the places I want to go. I’m not going to read all the books I want to read. I’m not going to revisit certain paintings as many times as I would like. There’s a limit ... and I would rather live forever.”

Many of us who now land squarely in the middle-age bracket are, like Viggo, hearing the ominous sound of time’s winged chariot. For some, birthdays represent cognitive dissonance in the form of a mixed blessing. To no longer be around to experience annual birthdays is not something we yearn for, yet, aging year after year after year is, well, a bit of a drag.

In popular culture and as an antidote to aging, people often create “bucket lists.” That is to say, one catalogues a list of the things one would like to do before death. My particular bucket list is not nearly as ambitious as Viggo’s. In other words, I don’t waste time fantasizing about escaping the clutches of the Grim Reaper. That smacks of the old “wishing for 100 wishes with one of your three wishes.” Besides, there are daily reminders everywhere that “no one gets out alive.” As grim as it is, I can deal with that particular reality.

My bucket list is therefore, like me, fairly practical. Some might even call it humble. In fact, whenever this topic comes up, inevitably most people within earshot remark that they’ve already done most of the things I’ve reported are on my “must do before I die” list.

This has given me pause to reconsider my goals, but then again, I am a girl who actually likes to cross off things on her “to do” list, so there’s that.

So, here, in no particular order, are some of the things I’d like to accomplish before I permanently exit the planet:

• Spend a week at the beach with a convertible to drive.

• Travel by plane in first class.

• Eat a Thanksgiving Day dinner outdoors.

• See the Northern lights.

• Go parasailing in Narragansett, RI.

• Write and publish that novel on grief.

• Retire to a home that meets the following criteria: is within biking distance of the ocean, has a fireplace, possesses a nice swath of sky – for sunsets and star gazing – and decent soil for gardening.

• Achieve my ideal weight without giving up chocolate.

• See a Vermeer exhibit.

• Own a little boat.

It’s not that I don’t yearn to climb a mountain or travel the world seeking out its wonders and glories; sometimes I crave both. It’s just that a bucket list is useless if there’s absolutely no possible way of achieving any of the items on it.  But, in the spirit of dreaming, I’ll add another item:

• Have a cup of tea with Viggo, if only to help him create a more realistic set of goals ...

So tell me, what’s on your bucket list?

Rebecca Richards February 15, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Hi Lisa: I couldn't have said it better--especially the item about the house by the ocean. Mine would also include an atelier in Paris for painting, writing and simply dreaming... Another wonderful column. Rebecca
Stacey Hammerlind February 19, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Lisa - You've got me thinking about my "must do" list . . . . I want to see Alaska, (I definitely don't want to climb any mountains - too hard on the feet!) -- maybe Burning Man next year . . . I would really like to finish all my projects! Thanks for getting me thinking!

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