Excerpts from a (life) list

The first step to creating a new life for yourself is deciding what you want that life to be, which is a lot easier than it sounds.  Particularly if you want that life to be many things, at once.  The most organized start to that process is to make a list.

So over the last two weeks, I’ve been doing just that.  Jotting down things I want to accomplish or change, places to which I would like to travel, skills I intend to master. Tonight, I’m going to share a few of them with you, and I’m going to create a master page to keep track of them.

Early tomorrow morning, the Blue Moon meets the Full Moon.  I took a long walk tonight and admired the moon.  Not particularly blue in hue, but spectacularly white in a dark blue and, for once, clear sky sprinkled with stars.  Most of the full moons in 2012 have been obscured by Philadelphia’s rainy winter, spring and summer.

And so, without further delay, Ten Things I’d Like to Do:

1.  Spend a solstice at Stonehenge.  I have been fascinated with Stonehenge since I first saw a picture in my grade schoool history book.  At the time, being enamored of King Arthur, I whole-heartedly embraced the “Merlin built Stonehenge” legends, and decided that somehow, I was going to travel all the way to England (a far distance for someone from my little town) and walk among the stones.  Over the years, I’ve religiously watched every special on the circle and read every article with the latest scientific discoveries about its construction.  While I’m thrilled to see how much we have learned since my school days, I was disappointed to learn that you can’t actually walk within the stones.  Except on the summer solstice.   Whatever other purpose(s) Stonehenge was meant to serve — monument, burial site, religious or healing center — it has continued to faithfully show us that crucial moment when summer truly begins.  And so I want to stand there, among the crowd, and feel that magical moment when the sun touches the stones.

2.  Relearn archery.  No, this isn’t listed here because I want to be Robin Hood or Katniss or Legolas or Hawkeye (although he is my favorite Marvel character).  I learned basic archery in college, and fell in love with it, not just because of the romance associated with a bow and arrow (see, Robin Hood et al above).  For me, it was the concentration, the focus, the fact that it uses virtually your whole body to achieve the goal of hitting one little spot on a target.  Drawing, aiming — it’s a form of moving meditation.  As an often-distracted, overworked college student, the peace I found in that hour-long class was a treasure beyond price.  A feeling I want to recapture in my life today.

3. Attend Comic-Con.  While we’re on the subject of Marvel, like probably half the world, I want to attend Comic-Con. I often joke that I need to time a visit to my company’s California operations to coincide with the Con, but I haven’t managed it yet.  As someone who devours comic books, fantasy movies and science fiction TV shows, Comic-Con just had to be on my list.  Enough said about it.

4.  Run a marathon.  I used to run regularly, both in college and for years afterward, until I injured my knee dodging a car that was careening towards me.  As the carrot waiving in front of me on my quest to get back in shape, I’ve decided I want to someday run/jog/fast walk a marathon.  It’s a test of fitness, but even more so, of willpower.  I see the fact that I can stick to my healthy eating plan, work out regularly, start getting in shape, as steps to building up my willpower so I can run that incredible distance.

5.  Draw a picture.  Right about now you’re wondering — what?  The fact is, my stick figures don’t really look like stick figures.  I can paint an abstract image, or copy something out by tracing it, but when it comes to free-form pencil or ink drawings that are recognizable as people, animals or even an apple, well, let’s just say my drawings would make Picasso proud.  It’s a matter of training my eye, I’ve been told.  And since there is a project I want to do that involves a lot of drawing, I will need to train my eye soon so that I can begin the work.  Failure is not an option here, as this one task is a step to a second, larger task, which then goes even further to a very large project.

6.  Spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square.  Something I’ve attempted to do for — years.  Decades?  I’ve made at least five separate plans to head up to New York for the big event, and each time, something happened to someone in the group and we ended up watching it all on TV.  I will get there — if I keep trying, eventually I will get there, right?

7.  Attend an opera. I think I was about ten years old when I saw my first opera — Die Fledermaus on PBS.   I was in love.  The costumes, the staging, the voices.  I sat enthralled when Der Ring des Nibelungen was broadcast over several nights.  Over the years, I’ve caught various operas on various stations — but I’ve never seen an opera live.  I’ve attended I-don’t-know-how-many rock concerts, classical concerts, Tanglewood events, plays and musicals, but I’ve never attended the opera.  I want to dress up, sit in one of those tiny and uncomfortable seats and watch as people with enchanted voices bring Wagner or Verdi or Strauss to life.

8.  Learn to juggle.  On a daily basis, I successfully juggle projects, clients and outside agencies.  I have not, however, managed to master the art of juggling small objects in the air.  That egg will be tossed up, and it might survive the first pass from left to right hand — but ten seconds later it’s a mess on the floor.   I spent a half an hour on a street corner in New York watching a juggler and wishing I had that level of dexterity.  The fact is, I do — or at least I could.  I can maneuver tiny knitting needles, fold an origami crane and sew tiny little stitches on costumes.  I’ve decided that, if I can do those things, I should be able to move past the dropped egg stage and learn to juggle.

9.  Work on an archeological dig.  I originally planned to study anthropology/archeology, but discovered I was allergic to the dust.  It’s hard to maintain an efficient and accurate dig site when you’re sneezing all over it.  And so I switched to journalism, and then made my way into law and business.  But I’ve always harbored a sneaking desire to go back and put a few of those early lessons to use.  What to others would seem tedious, bent over a tiny square of earth, delicately moving grains of dirt to see if there’s anything under them, is the same to me as waiting for Christmas morning and the joy of opening a present.  You never knew just what Santa had brought for you — and you never know just what is hidden in the next layer of soil.  Whether it be here in the US on a small, local dig, or somewhere exotic like Greece or Russia, I want, at least once, to experience the profession I had hoped to call my own.  And no, the allergy isn’t a problem any longer — I outgrew it.

10. Make an origami menagerie.  Years ago, I learned how to fold a crane, the symbol of peace.  I’ve made a number of them over the years for holiday decorations.  But there are hundreds of other animals, floewers and symbols that can be folded from beautiful paper, and I want to learn how to make more than just the elegant crane.  Tigers and dragons, hawks and owls, whales, flowers and stars, made from delicately-colored and patterned paper or brilliantly-hued metallic foil, can delight the recipient, amuse the maker and instantly turn a bad mood into a joyful one.   It’s an art form that I think is brilliant — all you need is a square of paper and your imagination.

Twas the ‘eve of Full Moon,

And all through the house,

My imagination was stirring,

With dreams bigger than a mouse.

Yes, I’m not that great at writing poetry.  Hopefully, I”m better at accomplishing things on my list!


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