I once had a plan. Now I have a different plan.
Let’s rewind to 2004. I’m sitting in a loft in Grünerløkka, Oslo’s hottest neighborhood for the city’s young, urban, up-and-commers. Together with two former colleagues I’ve just founded a startup, and like with many startups, work is all-consuming, leaving little time for other adventures. The only way for me to do other things is to set some goals. That’s when The List is born.
The List contains 100 things I want to do before I croak. Also known as a bucket list1, its items range from the most trivial things (#93: Write on a wall), to some more complicated endeavors (#60: Save a life). The List has gone through a few minor modifications since it’s inception. Some of the items on the original list were pretty far fetched, like the original #14: Rob a bank. Seriously? The original #56 wasn’t any better: Witness the production of porn in person. In my feeble defense, I was in my mid-twenties, heavily overworked, and desperately sex deprived.
The items on the list should be at least semi-realistic. It’s great to have ambitious goals, but as life changes, the odds that I will actually be able to check off some of the currently non-checked items on the list is pretty damn slim. That’s why, as I’m pushing 40, it’s time to have a good, long, hard look at The List again.
The pussy factor
Perhaps you think I’m going to tell you more about the aforementioned item #56. But no. This is about me being a risk averse coward. I wasn’t particularly tough when the list was created back in 2004, and now I’ve got a family with kids that I’d love to watch grow up. That makes it even less likely than it was 13 years ago that I’ll voluntarily put myself in harm’s way by trying to check off any of the more dangerous items on the list.
#40: Go up in a hot air balloon.
“Going up in a hot air balloon ain’t dangerous, you clod!” is what you might be yelling at your screen right now. Well, everything is relative. It’s probably less dangerous than kicking a wild tiger in the nuts, and then laugh in its face afterwards. But if the balloon malfunctions somehow at 3,000 feet, you’ve pretty much bought that infamous farm. The same goes for skydiving. Most skydives turn out perfectly well, those that doesn’t… Oh, well. It might not be terribly dangerous, but there’s a risk, and it’s a risk I’m not willing to take just to remove an item from some arbitrary list.
Actually, when I left the startup company that triggered this whole list thing, I was given a gift card for a parachute jump. The gift card collected dust on a shelve for a year before it expired, so that never happened. Sorry guys.
I’m too old for this shit
As the years have gone by, my need to do some of the items has simply dwindled and disappeared:
#32: Stay out all night partying and go to work the next day without having gone home.
#41: Hit a hole-in-one (with witnesses).
#71: Wake up on bench in the park.
#81: Throw ten three-pointers in row.
#97: Queue for something for at least 24 hours.
#100: See Matthew Good in concert.
All of these items are influenced by the time and place they were written. Partying all night, and waking up on benches in the park are both items I could have checked off without much effort in 2004 because, you know, being in a startup and the whole “work hard, party harder” mantra. But it didn’t happen, and now it’s 2017. I’m going to bed and half past nine, and the last time I touched alcohol was 8 months ago. Also, stage diving? Have you ever been to a concert where a guy my age has successfully stage dived without looking like a complete idiot? No, you haven’t.
Golfing was quite hot in the early 2000s, so of course I needed to have a golf item on the list. But considering the fact that I’ve set my foot on an actual golf course once in my entire life, and that the odds of hitting a hole-in-one are pretty low, I think we can all agree that I’ll never, ever cross off item #41. Sticking to the world of sports, let’s consider #81. I haven’t picked up a basket ball for years, and what kind of life goal is hitting ten three-pointers in a row, anyway? It’s not gonna happen.
Besides golfing, queuing was surprisingly popular in 2004. Just the year before, the last movie in the Lords of the Rings trilogy had premiered2, and people were queuing for days outside their local movie theaters to buy tickets. For some reason, I thought that sounded like an awesome activity. Nowadays, I get my movie tickets online, thank you very much. That I don’t get tickets to the premiere of a movie doesn’t matter. So no queuing for me.
#100 is on the list because I listened to Matthew Good a lot back in the early 2000s. Not so much anymore. The guy is still releasing new albums, but there’s been years since he release a good one. Mr. Good is mostly doing shows in Canada, and I suspect that item #100 made it to the list to give me an excuse to check off another item as well, #23: Visit Canada. That item was actually completed in 2007, but I never got to see Matthew Good in concert. And now it’s not really something I want to do.
It’s just not possible anymore
Some of the items on the list are so outdated they simply can’t be completed anymore.
#31: Sit on a jury.
#74: See a movie at a drive-in.
Norway will abolish jury duty next year. That means that #31 is off the list. Also, I’m honestly not sure if I’m comfortable deciding a person’s fate like that. But now we’ll never know. #74 is also an item that will be tough to complete since there are barely any drive-ins left. I doubt there is a single one here in Norway, and my best chance of going to one was probably when item #4, go on an American road trip, was checked off in 2012. But we didn’t go to a drive-in, instead we drank hard liquor out of a toilet bowl.
Just need a little fine tuning
There are also some of the items that are duplicates, or that don’t make much sense.
#30: Plant a tree.
#68: Grow a Bonsai tree.
#79: Ride my bike all the way from where I’m living at the time to my home town.
#98: Sing Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy The Silence’ and really mean it.
Planting a tree and growing a Bonsai tree is pretty much the same thing. I did try to grow a Bonsai tree once. Didn’t work out, all the seeds died a terrible, slow death. That bike ride time is strangely specific, while the Depeche Mode one is strangely vague. I think the point of taking my bike back home was to go on a long bike ride. So why not just write that? Singing Depeche Mode should somehow mean that my life was perfect at the moment. Now, first of all, I won’t sing. I can’t sing. It sounds terrible. Second of all, while all the other items on the list are quite concrete and binary - it’s either done, or it’s not - how good a life is it’s more abstract and analog.
What to do!?
Coming up with items for the bucket list is surprisingly hard. I very much doubt that I’ll find good replacements for the 13 items mentioned above that are off the list. But who said that a bucket list has to contain 100 items? What’s wrong with a bucket list with 87 items? Nothing!
That’s why I’ve decided to take the easy way out of this one. Instead of replacing the obsolete items, I’ll simply remove them from the list. For the sake of backwards compatibility, like we say in my line of work, I’ll keep the items on the list. If not, the order of the items that are already checked off will be all wrong, and we can’t have any of that, now can we?
I’m betting that was 1,455 words worth of time spent reading you’d love to have back. Sorry about that. If you read this far, pat yourself on your back, and revisit your own bucket list.