While sitting in the creek last night, I realized that I’ve never made a bucket list. In fact, I never heard of a bucket list until the Jack Nicholson movie came out. And even then, I didn’t see any reason for one. It appears to me that the purpose of a bucket list is to ensure you don’t forget to do those things that are important to you. You don’t want to end it all with nothing to show for your life but regrets.
I’ve never had that problem. Oh, there are things I wish I’d found time for: I always thought I’d like to play “Sherlock Holmes” on stage, and I really should have taken that “Designing Stage Backdrops” course I had my eye on when in college. But over all, there aren’t any regrets about unfinished business. That’s because whenever I got a bee in my bonnet about something, I jumped in with both feet and gorged myself until I felt satisfied I’d done all I could do
to with it.
Which explains a lot about my checkered resume (and my weight, come to think about it). My mother taught me to read and write before sending me off to school. I was sick a lot, so I spent much of my time in our little home library, which housed nothing but the classics. I could lose myself in those worlds for hours and never feel lonely. So I always wanted to be a writer. I remember writing “movies” starring my friends when I was in junior high. While in college I wrote and directed a TV play as part of the final in an English course. The day I got my first job as a reporter, I was so happy I coulda bust, but that was nothing compared to how I felt when I was hired to be the editor. Later, when I was approached to write screenplays for an independent movie producer, I felt like I’d come full circle.
But life is too short for only one love. I started music lessons when I was about eight. I was 22 when my childhood music teacher asked me to play in a band he had on the side. If I’d worn a vest, the buttons woulda popped, I was so proud.
I had to work for two years as a Teacher’s Assistant before I figured out that teaching college wasn’t actually all that appealing. I knew right away that I didn’t have the patience to teach kids, but it took me awhile before I realized that most college students are still children. Years later, however, I was asked to teach a college course on my hobby (magic) at my alma mater, I found that I could handle that. It was just a “fun” course for the Continuing Education department, but it really felt good to be asked. The fact that it was just for the summer might have helped.
After college I decided that I’d like to be an artist. I wound up with my own shop in a mall, selling the art I made. At times I even employed my artistic friends to help me with the demand. I went around the state on road shows each weekend until I was recognized as one of the best in my field. I got a little big-headed when really good artists started copying my work. I came back down to Earth when I realized they were doing a better job of it than I ever could.
When my world-famous judo instructor approached me about teaching a martial arts class at his school I was stunned. Even though I had never thought that would happen, it set me on a path that lead to fulfillment of another life-long dream: building my own martial art/yoga meditation school at my home. Unfortunately that lead to a catastrophic fall, but while recuperating I had an amazing apperception. That same string of events ended with me in a wheelchair, but not until after I had done what I set out to do.
Growing up watching Perry Mason, who wouldn’t want to be a lawyer? After spending four years getting a writing degree, I started another four-year program to add on a law degree. I loved spending hours in the law library digging out obtuse points of law and then figuring out how to write a winning argument into Memorandum form. I enjoyed it so much that it took me two years to discover that I really, really, REALLY didn’t want to be a lawyer. I didn’t like lawyers (jerks, every one of them), and I didn’t want to turn into one. I also discovered that lawyers don’t do all that stuff that I loved doing in the library. That’s done by their assistants. So, in the middle of reaching one goal, I just reset the goal posts. Instead of a lawyer, I became a paralegal. That’s the way to have all the fun while not being required to be a jerk.
I guess what I’m saying is: you don’t really need a list. Just do the things you want to do and ignore the rest. That’s what I did and look how I turned out!
No, wait, on second thought, maybe you should just go ahead and make that list after all…