Monday, January 15, 2018

Bucket Lists

In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar did away with a flawed lunar-based calendar and introduced the Julian calendar, based (as the Egyptians had been doing for a very long time) on a solar year. He didn’t get it quite right, which required the change over 1,600 years later to our current Gregorian calendar. All of which is to say that we should blame Caesar for having to start anew during the days of shortest daylight hours instead of (say) near the vernal equinox.

I didn’t find anything that linked Caesar to the common practice of setting (and mostly ignoring) New Year’s Resolutions. For a time, I tried to be a maverick and set goals commencing on my birthday. That didn’t seem to work any better, and since the IRS insists that I use a calendar-year basis for my personal and business taxes, I’ve reverted to calendar-year based goals. And lists.

I’ve mentioned before that I am a person who keeps lists. Lots of lists, but fewer than there used to be. I still maintain my books read (80 for 2017). It has the practical purpose of answering the question: did I already read this? I also maintain a lifetime bird list, but I’ve discarded the practice of keeping track of the number seen each year, and in each state, and on my property, and . . . I no longer care.

One list I continue to maintain has nothing to do with calendar years; it’s a bucket list. In case you are not familiar with the term, it means a list of things you want to do or experience before you die (or “kick the bucket”).

My bucket list has changed over the years. Some things have come off because I completed them. My trip to Alaska in 2008 completed my objective to visit all 50 states. And in 2014 when we visited Newfoundland/Labrador, I finished off my Canadian providences list. (I still hope to visit all the Canadian territories, and that remains on my bucket list.)

I consider my list as a way to remind me of some of my inspirational goals, but I don’t allow it to exert pressure on me. (You’re past Social Security eligibility age and you still haven’t done that? Shame, Jim!) Over the years, I removed some items from the list because they are no longer possible to do, at least in the way first intended. I had to scratch “Hike the Appalachian Trail” when my shoulders deteriorated to the point it was too painful to carry a heavy pack for a full day, let alone three months.

I’ve flown in a hot air balloon and helicopter, but still want to fly in a glider plane during hawk migration. I’ve been to the Arctic, but not to Antarctica—that is about to be rectified.

We’ve booked passage on a birding tour that will take us to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, and the Antarctica peninsula. We leave at the end of January and will be gone for three-plus weeks. I can’t wait to experience the remote habitats, see birds I have only visited in zoos, and experience—well, who knows exactly what I’ll experience? That’s why I’m going.

What’s on your bucket list and what do you hope to scratch off this year? (Oh, oh – there’s that calendar year thing raising its head again!)

~ Jim

Originally published on Writers Who Kill Blog 1/14/18