Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bucket Lists and Inspiration

About a year or so ago, I was given The Four Hour Body, by Tim Ferris.  While the book has its champions and opponents, I will admit that I was hooked from the first chapter.  From the moment I began reading Tim's book, I was found myself online, looking up YOUTUBE videos and reading his blog.  Mr. Ferris is an expert at self advertising and blogging so as a side note to all you struggling bloggers out there, there is a lot to be gained by checking out his blog.  That being said, today I read his post Playing B-Ball with Obama: 6 Steps to Crossing Anything Off Your Bucket List and found myself inspired.  The article is a guest post from Ben Nemtin about his project A Buried Life.  Apparently I'm out of touch a bit because these young men are quite popular and even have their own show on MTV.  What they have done with the simple idea of crossing off items from their collective bucket list is nothing short of amazing and one of the more inspirational stories I've heard in a long while.  Rather than repeat the nuances of their story, check out their website www.theburiedlife.com or Tim Ferris's blog.  What I would like to discus is what their story has led me to think about goals, life and experiences.
I believe it was John Lennon who said, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."  On the surface it seems such a simple, all be it witty quote, and in my youth I would have simply admired the pithiness of it and moved on.  As a somewhat middle aged adult however, the quote seems to take on a more significant meaning, especially for one such as myself who still has some pretty lofty dreams that haven't quite taken shape yet.  When I look at the young men from the Buried Life and examine Lennon's quote, a few interesting things emerge.  A lot of questions actually that have some rather difficult answers.
How many of us will reach old age and look back on the life we have lived and realized that we spent the majority of it planning and wishing for something else?  How many of us will say that we truly went after every dream we had, and whether we fell flat on our faces, we certainly gave it our all?  Will the majority be able to look back and say that they took the time to appreciate the life they had, while they were planning for something greater?
I am a perpetual dreamer.  There are actually times, I am reluctant to admit, that life seems quite transitory to me.  Even unreal.  Perhaps a better explanation would be that for me, life is still as it was through the eyes of a child.  I certainly take part in a great deal of adult endeavors and I put forth a great deal of time and effort into such activities.  I have a job, which I work hard to be good at.  I take pride in raising and caring for my children.  I even do yard work, sometimes even without my wife reminding me.  At the same time, somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I'm not in the that, "grown up, this is my life" place.  I haven't gotten there yet, much like as a teenager, going to school and imagining what I wanted to do with my life, I was in a phase I had to pass through to get to where I wanted to be in life.  As I get older and older, while the feeling may not recede, the practical side of my psyche begins to dominate and I occasionally am hit with the realization that this is in fact my life.  I am in fact a grown up and dreams or no dreams, I'm smack dab in the meat and potatoes of living.
So what then am I to take from such inspirational young men as the Buried Life guys and the seemingly at odds quote from Lennon?  How does one reconcile these concepts?
Unfortunately I have only my own thoughts and not the answer, but as this is my blog, my thoughts are what you get.  My bucket list is not all that extensive, only because I haven't taken the time to write one down, but there are a few things which would certainly top the list if I were to put pen to paper on the subject.  I want to be a successful novelist.  I would like one day, to walk into a Barnes and Noble, see the hard back addition of my latest book on the shelf and sign a copy or two for some of the fans waiting in line to buy it.  I would like to have a flat stomach again.  No, I'll be honest.  I would like to have six pack abs.  I never said they were all lofty or noble goals.  As a paramedic, I would like to deliver a baby in the field.  I would like to dance at my daughters' weddings.  I would like to really learn to play the guitar.  (Once you start to write these things down, they start to come pretty fast)
I think the trick is to realize that while you should never stop dreaming, you should also never forget to live.  Part of that is taking real steps toward achieving your dreams.  Making them an active part of your life.  I like to think that I'm doing that with my writing now.  The other part, though, is to enjoy the time you have at this moment.  This moment where I'm writing a blog post, my books don't adorn the shelves at Barnes and Noble and in the next few minutes I'll be reading to my children snuggled up on the couch.  It would be great if we could all just take off across the country focusing only on our bucket lists and living each moment as if it were our last.  The fact is, that's not practical for 99% of us.  What we can do, however, is enjoy what we have, set our sights on loftiest dreams and enjoy the journey.  How great would it be if instead of reminiscing fondly about those days when we were barely getting by on Top Ramen and Spaghettioes and we found the last couple of bucks for the rent by turning over the couch cushions, we actually enjoyed them when they were happening.  How amazing would it be if instead of wondering how great it would have been to move to the country, we lived there?
As the great Ferris Bueller so aptly put it, "Life moves by pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it."

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