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August 2, 2014

What’s the opposite of a bucket list? #InTheCan

Filed under: A life worth living,Just life — Tags: , , — sbj @ 5:01 am

I thought it might be nice to backup the “bucket list” train for a bit and get on the gratitude/appreciation express for a minute. It’s not that I don’t like having goals or that I don’t want to do cool things.. I just don’t want to have a list of things I want to do sitting around waiting to be crossed off. I moreso just want to do cool stuff until I can’t do things anymore (cause I’m dead). If I were to make a bucket list, I think that’s all that would be on it… “do cool things until I can’t do them anymore.” If I did have a second item on the list, it would probably be “share those things with others, especially the people that I love.” That would be it though… three or more is just piling on! ;)

But I digress…

What I’d like to do today is tell a few (short/abreviated) stories, and spend some time reflecting gratefully on some of the opportunities I have had. So without delay, a partial glimpse into my (to borrow from the movie industry) “in the can” list, in my life thus far, I have:

  • Run the New York Marathon. I’ve actually run a couple of marathons, but only New York was completed while languishing through a hideous case of food poisoning (or, more precisely, while suffering from an allergic reaction to unwittingly eating shellfish the night before). Naturally I recall that part of the experience quite vividly, however more clear in my memory is 2 million people lining the streets… rooting… for me (which is exactly what it felt like, that they were all there for me… it’s hard to explain, and surreal to experience). It was amazing, there were bands playing, families screaming in support, and – in some of the poorest neighborhoods of Gotham – children holding out their trick or treat bags for runners to have a snack along the way.
  • Learned survival and safety techniques… on a glacier. One of the most exhilarating (and flat out scary things I have ever done was learning how to self-arrest on a sheet of ice. From bagging multiple peaks to rappelling down cliff faces into caves (where we subsequently spent the night) there were plenty of amazing experiences on my Outward Bound trip, but nothing is quite like rocketing down the face of a glacier, on your back, head first, with the knowledge that if you fail to stop yourself you will crash into a mini-mountain of rocks at the bottom. As you are reading this now, clearly, I managed to properly apply the breaks… thanks Outward Bound instructors!!!
  • Participated in collegiate athletics. Long before I laced up a competitive high-top, I ran college cross country. What a change from high school. The first week of training I took bloody socks off my feet almost every day. I ran harder, faster and simply better than I ever had in my life… and still was a middle of the pack runner (until I injured my foot… then I wasn’t even that). The jump from high school to college competition was staggering, and something that absolutely changed my life. You never know what you can do until you push yourself beyond what you previously thought was impossible. Once you do that, however, you truly begin to believe that you can do anything.
  • Started a family. Yep it sounds cliche, but there is nothing in the world like having and raising children. My kids are the best thing I have ever done, or will do. There is nothing that I can achieve that will come close and, being completely frank, if you’ve had children and your life isn’t complete, you and I have a different standard for satisfaction (which doesn’t mean your’s is wrong… it is just different than mine). My children are a big part of why I don’t need or want a “bucket list”.. my bucket is – for all intents and purposes – already full, from them alone.
  • Had (and won) a duel over a girl I had just met. Okay, the “swords” were straw beach mats and the “duel” was really just deciding who was going to ride with her… but none of that is the point. We dodged, parried, and thrusted all over the Santa Monica pier making a spectacle (or in some peoples opinions, probably a body part) out of ourselves and were completely alive and in the moment. It may not seem like a big deal, but there are certain times in life when you realize you are really alive. It’s not worth being alive if you ain’t living!

That’s it for now. I might do more later, but for now five mini-stories feels about right. What about you… what stories/adventures do you have #InTheCan

June 9, 2010

Microwave a Pop Tart for 3 seconds…

Filed under: A life worth living,Conversations,Observations — Tags: , , — sbj @ 4:09 pm

There is a phrase/question, a little overused, but of value none the less, that goes something like this:

If you knew you were going to die tomorrow (in a week/in a month/whatever), what would you do; and, why aren’t you doing it?

The message is simple and clear, you only get one crack at it, why not make the most of it… starting now.  People are often surprised when they run out of time, they wonder where their lives went and why they never climbed that mountain, jumped out of that (perfectly sound!!!) airplane, or went on that grand adventure.

The bottom line, however, is this: if you wait long enough, everything will stop becoming an option.  Eventually, there will be no marathons to run, no scuba dives to make, no cross country road trips to take… no tomorrow.  We are each granted a finite number of “today’s” and an even smaller (by one) number of “tomorrow’s.”  With that comes the inevitable question: what are you doing with them?

I was enjoying a conversation with someone this morning about their “bucket list.”  It included things like “see the northern lights,” and “save someone’s life” (rather amazingly, given that she is a teen, the latter is already accomplished and crossed off of her list).

What really caught my attention though, were a few other items, exemplified perfectly by “Microwave a Pop Tart for 3 seconds.”  It is both less random and more pedestrian than it sounds, those are the exact microwave preparation instructions on the package.  But that is the simple curious beauty of this particular item.

So often it is the everyday things that we do not do that haunt us later in life.  It is living within 30 minutes from the coast, but only having been to the beach a handful of times (or, gasp!!! … not at all); living in Vegas, but never seeing a show; in San Francisco but never having walked the golden gate bridge or visited Alcartaz.

We get so engrossed in our lives we often have to leave town to relax and enjoy living them.

Several months ago (the end of September, 2009), inspired by my friend Claudia, I set out to accomplish 100 goals in 100 days.  Today (June 9th, 2010) I have accomplished (drum roll please!!!) 78 of them.  Obviously, in order to be realistic, many of these goals were set very low to the ground.  Others were more lofty and would require quite a bit of effort to accomplish.

What is interesting to me, however, is that the rate of success on the low hanging fruit is roughly the same as that of the complex tasks.  In fact, if I had managed to accomplish all of the relatively effortless items (i.e. “clean out my domain inventory” and “review and update my birthday calendar”), I would have accomplished 96 of my 100 goals instead of 78.

Again, simple attainable goals, even though – in this case – I had the advantage of identifying and setting out to accomplish them, left incomplete.  When I look back at my nearly 300 days since creating the list, there is no way to justify not having time to accomplish any of the items on my list (okay, maybe the movie was pushing it a bit), let alone the little ones.  Yet, undone 22 of them remain.

If yesterday, today was my last tomorrow… I’d certainly like to think I had lived my life to the fullest.  Maybe I didn’t get my domains sorted out, but that at least I had spent my time enjoying life, satisfying my curiosities, and doing the little things that make life worth living, no matter how simple they might be.

… like microwaving a Pop Tart for three seconds…

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