I don’t want to sound maudlin, but every now and then as one gets older, thoughts of mortality do tend to cross one’s mind. This is especially true when someone you know passes over into the great beyond. Sad to relate, this happened to me earlier this week when I heard that one of my mom’s friends – whom I have known since I was a baby – has shrugged off this mortal coil, as it were.
I will be 55 this year, which means I will hit the big "Six-Zero" in only five years’ time. Eeeeek Alors! I find this hard to believe. Where did the time go? And having people tell you that “60 is the new 40” really doesn’t help as much as you might think (grin).
So, I started pondering (as you do), and my thoughts turned to creating a Top 10 list of the things I would like to do before I progress to the next level of my existence, whatever that may be. So here’s my list, starting with the most important items first:
#1 Live a long time: This may seem obvious, but I thought that it was best to cover all the bases just in case someone “Up There” is reading my blogs. The thing is that I don’t just want to live a long time (I’m aiming at 120), but also to have good health. And, while we are at it, I wouldn’t mind having a little wealth also. Nothing “over the top” you understand… but it would be nice to have enough in the bank not to worry about things. As things stand at the moment, I’m living from paycheck to paycheck like most of the folks I know, plus I have a mortgage that doesn’t end until I’m 80 years old – give me strength!
#2 See more of America: I was thinking about this last night – I was wondering how many of the states I had visited. First of all I had to write out a list of the states. I could have looked this up on Google, of course, but where would be the fun in that? It took ages to track down the last two … but I got there in the end. When I tallied things up, I was quite surprised to discover that, in addition to Washington DC, I’ve actually visited 30 of the 50 states, which isn’t too shabby. Of course, a lot of this was work-related, which means I often didn’t see all that much. On the other hand, I’ve usually managed to take a little time for myself to sample a “taste” of what’s on offer. Given a choice, I would like to visit all of the states and really spend some time looking around, but the chances of that are not high. If I had to focus, I would like to revisit New York (the city) and spend some time in Central Park; I would like to visit New York (the state) because I’ve heard so much about it; I would like to visit Hoboken, New Jersey, because my wife (Gina the Gorgeous) and I are mega-fans of the TV programs Jerseylicious and The Cake Boss; and I would like to visit Vermont, because it looked so nice on The Bob Newhart Show (grin).
#3 See more of the world: When I come to think about it, I really have been outrageously lucky with regard to travelling around with someone else picking up the bills. I was born in England, which – as we all know – is God’s own country. I’ve been to France, Germany, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and (as of next week) Norway. I’ve also been to Canada, Israel, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Japan, China, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The thing is that, when it comes to travel – and assuming I had the money – I could pretty much point my finger anywhere on the globe and say “Ooooh! I want to go there!” I mean, I would love to see Russia, Thailand, Egypt, Morocco, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru … the list goes on and on and on. But, if I were forced to boil my choices down to just a handful… I would really like to see Easter Island, I would love to visit the Great Rift Valley in Africa, I would not say “No” if someone offered an “all expenses paid” two-week vacation for Gina and myself to the Hilton in Bora Bora (have you SEEN that place?), and I would LOVE to visit Australia and New Zealand. [With regards to Australia, I’ve seen the films Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – and I’ve also read In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson – so I think I have a pretty good idea as to what to expect (grin).]
#4 Read books and watch DVDs: I understand that this may seem a little prosaic in the grand scheme of things, but I really enjoy reading and there are a myriad books out there that are clamoring for my attention. If you stick me in a corner with a good book, you won’t hear a peep out of me for hours. The walls of my office are lined with books, as are the walls of my study at home, and these are just the ones I’ve read (and kept). The floor of my office is like an obstacle course with piles of books that I have not yet found the time to read (and you have to remember that I do read at least four or five books a week). The same thing applies to DVDs. It’s not that I’m a film junkie who will watch anything that goes; it’s just that there are a bunch of “five-star” films that I haven’t gotten around to seeing yet, which is sort of embarrassing because I have many of them in DVD form in my office. It’s just that there are so many fun things to do, and so little time to do them all in…
#5 through #10: Hmmmm... do you know… off the top of my head… I really cannot think of anything else I realistically want to do. (Note that I’m taking things like “Spending quality time with friends and family” for granted, which may be a little presumptuous of me, but I am very much aware how lucky I am to have so many wonderful people in my life.) Of course, if we start talking about “non-realistic” possibilities, then I would love to go into space, perhaps spend a week or two on a base on the moon, travel in time, visit alternate realities … you know, all the usual “stuff”.
I must admit that when I first considered creating a “Top 10” list of this ilk, my impression was that it would be really easy to fill it. Actually, if the truth be told, I thought that the hard part would be to whittle things down. Of course, it would be easy to split up my entries above and count things like “Visit Easter Island” and “Visit Australia” as two different line items, but it made more sense to me to gather things together.
What I think this boils down to is that – generally speaking – I am happy and content and there’s really not much I want or need. I don’t care about flashy cars or bigger houses or anything like that. So long as you have your friends and family, and a roof over your head, and food on the table (and a cold beer in your hand), then anything else really is “cream on the cake.”
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