Home > Health and wellness, Life or something like it, Philosophy > Bucket Lists? I don’t need a bucket list…

Bucket Lists? I don’t need a bucket list…


Entry 09/20/2014 03:21:18 AM – Mentat 737

Oh yes, I continue to do the old man thing; I passed out on my bed with Moe happily hogging more than his fair share at a modest 9 o’clock and now six hours later, I’m up and unable to sleep. Oh sure, I know I’ll be able to sleep another couple of hours, but until I do I found myself thinking about something that I’ve thought about responding to… Here, let me set it up.

When I had a moment of not having to assist my mother with her housework (something she was rather proud of finally being able to do on her own since the stitches in her ankle came out and she’s able to put some weight on her ankle), I had the opportunity to watching my YouTube Subscriptions. One in particular — Mr. Louis Cole (FunforLouis) — had been reprising about one of the top items on his bucket list (Swimming with a Whale Shark) and asking his followers and subscribers what some of the items on their Bucket Lists were.

I found myself amused by it.

As a child, I had a rare form of Hypoglycemia (which was later identified and my name ended up in some medical journal because of it) and though the doctors were able stabilize it, until I was 7 my life was pretty much treated I could die at any time. So because of that, my family — namely my maternal grandparents but aunts and uncles as well — would pack me up with them and go traveling in the trailer where ever they happened to be going. Well that and let’s face it, compared to my younger brother I was an absolute angel.

I got to see things few of my peers would in their lives. The Montreal Expo of 1967, Six Gun City and riding the stage coach there, the Polar Caves and spelunking. Being on the campgrounds in Montreal and listening to these couple of Hippies singing Puff the Magic Dragon for hours (seemed it was the only song in English they knew).

Woodstock… Yes, that Woodstock.

From my paternal side of the family: living on the Cape (Cape Cod) during the summers when I was in elementary school on the campgrounds in East Dennis. From there I saw all the touristy and non-touristy things the Cape had to offer. Deep Sea Fishing, wandering the shores of a beach where the Navy and National Guard used the wrecks and hulks beached there for target practice. (To an 8 year old, that would definitely rank up there as completely awesome seeing various boats completely shelled to hell and back.)

Being there at the docks after hearing a local man (on my uncle’s CB Radio) having successfully caught a 400 pound tuna saw the boat he was on coming into the bay listing horribly to the side as it wasn’t big enough to bring the tuna onto the boat — so they had it strapped to the side. Standing there on the dock as the proud fisherman and seeing it five times my size as they hauled it up on its hind fin. I even remember the man that caught it allowing me — the only 10 year old there to see it — to come up and touch it as I was intensely curious what it would feel like. I think I remember he even offered to give my family some of the tuna steaks from his catch to my family (saying that he couldn’t possibly have them all) because of my bravery and passion for fishing that I showed. My uncle turning him down politely because that’s what my family would do when offered such generosity.

Getting a piece of my art made in Elementary School shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (in New York City) and winning third place for it.

My trip to both sides of Niagara Falls (US and Canadian side) when I graduated from Elementary School with my maternal grandparents. Heh, I still remember my grandmother saying for hours when we left my hometown, “I know I forgot something… I know I forgot something…” and when we stopped for supper she remembered: the box of matches needed to start the propane stove. And during our slow trek through Upper State New York all the places we stopped along the way — like tourists typically do.

Making an instructions book in my senior year (last year of high school) art class on the preparations (and requirements) for making an artists’ portfolio that as I understand is still used by schools in Canada to this day. (It was also in the US, but it was phased out for a more modern book for students to use sometime in the 90s. Though it’s still in many school libraries to be taken out).

And while not necessarily on any bucket list but instead is more bragging rights, but until I changed my name — my family name (Newlander) is still sitting on a Lunar Landing Module base on the moon.

As an adult after the car accident and being diagnosed with epilepsy (grand mal seizures until I was 27), the doctors would typically give me the typical diagnosis of “…2 years to live…”, which makes you do anything on a bucket list pronto.

Living in Key West. (And in the 80s that was a Gay Man’s to-do because it was a status symbol of being out — though something a 50-something not a 20-something would do).

Learning how to scuba dive (and later swimming with Manatees and Dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico).

Which later lead me to swimming with a Whale on the east coast, and Sea Otters on the west coast.

Jumping out of a plane (yes, sky diving).

Running a safe house for gay and lesbian youth out of my own mouse-infested warehouse apartment (yes it was that huge).

Throwing a beach party in the dead of winter with a summer dress requirement and complete with the floors being covered with several hundred pounds of beach sand along and beach accessories that included a volleyball net.

Hot Air Balloon racing in New England. Yes, racing. It’s like watching pretty, colorful snails racing several hundred feet up in the sky combined with herding cats because the balloons have to rely on the direction of the wind which does what it wants more than a petulant 10 year old.

Won a $500 pot (err., what most other people call prize), playing cow-pat bingo in Vermont. And for my family — that’s like winning PowerBall or MegaMillions given our luck.

Landing a job on an Army Base (CHAMPUS) in Bavaria (yes, in Germany) and then being able to travel a lot of Europe doing things both as a tourist and as a native on holiday.

Took a trip on Route 66 (as inspired by the Depeche Mode song). Oh and it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. Well that and waking up with a rattlesnake under the truck when I was taking a break on Route 66 was rather nerve jarring.

Play softball with celebrities… I didn’t know this would’ve qualified as a Bucket List item until after I did it. I worked a convention in Boston at the time, and ended up being asked — to fill the team — so I played softball with some of the actors from the cast of Babylon 5 at the time.

Like being at Mardis Gras and Southern Decadence in the same year.

Was there the first year the Boston Pride Parade when it looked like the Norse Snake where the head of the parade met the tail as it marched into the park.

Oh and made it a point to be the last into the park that day. Everyone wants to be first, but last billed is more memorable.

Was one of the first 100 during Rhode Island’s first gay pride parade. And watching an acquaintance of mine during the pre-pride preparations say, “Oh I don’t know if I’m going to go.. I don’t want to make such a scene… I’m out, but not that out…” Only to watch her the day of the parade at the front, leading everyone up the street holding up a sign for RI Pride like a ring-girl announcing the next round in boxing. Made local news too, which we ribbed her about for months.

I was invited to an underground rave and an awesome house party within six hours of landing in Atlanta The kind of parties that you can only be invited to and will never be held under that name or that theme again.

Got to see massive amounts of the USA. Sure it was a job, and sure it was exhausting after doing it 18 months, but not only did I see places like Chicago, Austin, and Denver, but I also saw places like Butte, Redmond, Council Bluffs, and Cheyenne. It gave me insights into regional and parochial perspectives I had never had before and gave me a more refined world view that I still have today.

To fall head over heels, truly, madly deeply in love. And I didn’t do that once, but instead did that three times. They were all meteoric and while I think the first might have lasted, it had been cut short. The other two had a beginning, a middle and an end because something that burns that brightly will never last long. The first man that did that taught me loyalty, the second taught me faith, and the third taught me understanding.

And I can keep going.

The thing is now that I’ve made it to middle age and (now) to my half-century mark, while I didn’t actually think the words when Mr. Cole talked about it and asked his followers to tell him some of their bucket list items… I felt the “how quaint…” feelings of it while amused by someone 30-something asking kids still in junior and senior high (secondary) school what they want to do before they die…

I woke up this morning and thought how does a man that has lived life both as an observer and as someone tits-deep playing the game to its hilt create another Bucket List?

The answer is, I can’t really.

I don’t want to either.

That doesn’t mean that I’m going to lie down and die any time in the near future either. For as the quote that I used to stop myself from being an introvert into more of an extrovert:

Confine yourself to observing and you always miss the point of your own life. The object can be stated this way: Live the best life you can. Life is a game whose rules you learn if you leap into it and play it to the hilt. Otherwise, you are caught off balance, continually surprised by the shifting play. Non-players often whine and complain that luck always passes them by. They refuse to see that they can create some of their own luck.

Yes… Live the best life you can.

Or as another one of my favorite quotes taken slightly out of context, “…And while Cinderella and her Prince did live happily ever after. The point, gentleman: is that they lived.

It’s not (and never should be) really about bucket lists. It’s not about checking something off on a list that you want to do before you die.

It’s about living… For in living, we don’t always appreciate the little things in life that happen along with those bucket list items….

Like seeing Lunar Moths congregating in your back yard and mating in the moonlight.

Or being beaned (hit in the head) by a member the biggest moth species in the United States (it looks like the Atlas Moth in color and wing shape, but can’t remember the name of it off the top of my head Hercules Moth or some such) while watching a total lunar eclipse as it turns blood red.

Being a second (back-up) for a childbirth because the husband was away on an Oil Rig and would never make it in time (and for a Gay Man was quite the surprise in more ways than I can shake a stick at. Blue! Enough said).

Being stuck in traffic and in an act of boredom blow up balloons throwing them out the window, and watching people behind laughing and try to collect them and passing them backwards to others frustrated by the traffic jam.

Like being there for a friend comforting them as they died.

Throwing a lingerie party for drag queens as an act of defiance for the nosy neighbors. The expressions were flawless ad the neighbors tried to work out how women came into the party in the evening, yet men left it in the early morning.

Finding out that my journals (blog) and the trials I was going through helped someone realize that the problems they’re going through aren’t as bad as they thought they were and helped pick them up and continue on.

Or having a friend comment that my silence being such a presence during a meeting, challenged him in ways he never knew possible.

Riding my bicycle at 2 in the morning and watching the deer on some rural road, stopping and staring while a flock of turkeys ran in the opposite direction as I’m cackling like a madman (while listening to a podcast) riding downhill at breakneck speeds.

Being complimented on my laugh and asked by several members of an improv troupe if I would sit in on their shows more often as someone to prompt the audience to laugh more.

Or dancing with a date at a movie in the park that prompted people to dance along and turn a quiet movie into an awesome and camp audience participation event. And back more than thirty years ago, not a noise was made that it was two men dancing together.

And of course, there’s so much more there too…

My point is: if you treat everything you do, see, experience as part of a bucket list… As something wonderful, unique appreciated and cherished… perhaps you won’t actually need to plan one as the amazement, strangeness and uniqueness of life happens around you minute to minute.

Until the next time.

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