toshio.jpgYou probably have a “bucket list” of things to do before you die, either written down neatly somewhere or sloshing about in your head. These are all the, “I sure would like to’s” that humans collect like shot glasses and refrigerator magnets from the truck stops of America. Most of them don’t mean that much and unless you have a major commitment to check the heck off that list before you leave this planet, it probably won’t matter at the end of the day if you’ve seen the Pyramids or learned to scuba-dive. 

But there are a few things on that list that matter immensely, and that’s what this 21st day of your charmed-life process is about: what have you not done yet that you’d really be miffed about missing if your time to leave this earth were to come sooner than you’re planning?
Think of 5 things that are like that. Maybe a couple of them are seeing the Pyramids and learning to scuba-dive. It doesn’t matter what they are. If they tug at your heart, you need to bring them to mind, write them down, and develop a concrete plan for tackling each one of them. Depending on how grand each one is — does it cost money? will it mean more time off work than an ordinary vacation? do you have to go to school or otherwise prepare for this thing? — you’ll have to allot sufficient time to each one. Maybe 5 items, 5 years makes sense. If you want to become fluent in a new language, it may take longer than a year. And if you want to go around the world first-class, you may have to save up for 5 years. It doesn’t matter. Just get started. This may mean picking one of the five and focusing on it, or starting to actually do one of them while preparing for a couple of the others. The particulars are up to you; getting going with this is what matters.
I have a lovely 83-entry life list, but the 5 I’m choosing, the ones that are really pressing and that seem truly necessary, are: 
1. Learn French/go to Paris. Speaking even my cobbled high-school French makes me so happy, but keeping up with it is always pushed aside by more pragmatic pursuits. I know for a fact, however, that I’ll be really unhappy if I die mono-lingual. I have Rosetta Stone, and I can check out French classes locally, and I can look into an immersion program in Paris. Maybe that’s what I’ll give myself for my next birthday.
2. Take ballroom dancing with William. We’ve promised each other that we’d do this for about six years — we seriously predated Dancing with the Stars. We just haven’t done it. But I can check out lessons, the where/the how-long/the how-much. Once I have the information, we can commit to getting started — now or in January or next spring. The date isn’t nearly as important as the commitment.
3. Get some voice lessons. I cannot sing a note. Well, I guess do sing notes but they’re not the right ones. I’m not being modest here: I am a pitiful singer, to the point that I can’t sing hymns in church or the National Anthem at the ballpark. I need some lessons — not for Broadway, but so I can sing in the shower and not offend the neighbors. This isn’t a pressing gotta-do-it-now thing. I could put “voice lessons” on my Christmas list for 2010. But at some point before my dotage, I need to be able to get through “Amazing Grace” and “Oh Say, Can You See?” in something remotely akin to “on key.”
4. Adopt a dog. I am crazy about dogs. Crazy. I stop on the street to pet them and I ooo and ahh over them to the endless boredom and embarrassment of William, who can do a really convincing impersonation of someone who doesn’t know me. But our cat Bobby is our only companion animal right now. A dog in New York City is a more of a commitment than a dog anywhere else, since he/she has to be walked three times a day. But I know there is supposed to be a dog in my home — maybe two if they’re little. This may have to wait until after Bobby goes to kitty-heaven — Bobby is old and set in his ways, and the vet says that bringing in a dog would be a real insult — but I can at least do the research. And maybe start a little doggy savings so the adoption fees, pet insurance, and some dog-walking help is covered in advance.
5. Do my one-woman show. Act I is ready. Acts II and III are written, but not fleshed out. If I’m going to do the show, My Father’s Other Job, about my dad who was bigger than life in my little-girl eyes, but who had a mysterious “second life,” I have to get it out, work with a director, and set a date for showcasing it somewhere. Right now I’m writing a book proposal, so this is not the time, but December, January, February, when the book proposal is being shopped to publishers, could be a very good time. 
Okay, lovely blog readers, there are my five. Now write yours, what they are and what you intend to do about them. This is regrets insurance. Some day you’ll be glad you took out the policy.
Photo credit: Toshio
New Yorkers: I’d love to meet you (if I don’t know you) and see you (if I do) next Sunday, November 8, at The Sacred Center. I’m doing their 2 pm Sunday service, “Victoria’s Victorious Bailout Plan,” and a 4 pm workshop, “The 10 Power Principles of the Spiritual Life.” The service is on a love-offering basis; the workshop is $25. You can just “show up” for either or both. The Sacred Center meets at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew on the corner of Broadway and West End Avenue.
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