DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Apr 10 2015

Live Like You’re Dying

by Camille B

A few weeks ago I happened to walk through a spider’s web right outside my back door. Huge and beautifully spun, Anansi was sitting smack-dab in the middle. My son turned to me and said, “Mom, can you imagine how long it took that spider to build that web, and you destroyed it in like, what, two seconds?”

Well! As much as I didn’t care for the guilt trip, it really started me thinking hard about my own life, and how very much like a spider’s web it is–the fragility, and how it can all just disappear in the blink of an eye. We work so hard every day to pay our bills and put food on the table for our families–sometimes placing our own hopes and dreams on hold for everyone else, until one day, just like that web, our lives are swept away and we never get a chance to do any of the things we longed to do. If someone were to call you up right now and tell you that tomorrow would be your last day here on earth, what would be some of the things you’d most regret never doing? I mean, apart from spending more time with loved ones, etc., what would be the one thing you’ve always wanted to do and haven’t done yet?

We save and plan and keep dreaming dreams that we never try to make happen. We put off taking that trip, or signing up for that Spanish class, learning to play the guitar or taking salsa lessons. You know? Things that have nothing at all to do with New Year’s resolutions–we want to do them just because. For those of you who’ve already planted your flag on Mount Everest, run with the bulls in Spain, or appeared as a contestant on American Idol, kudos to you! For the rest of us, let’s say we start reviewing that old bucket list again. Take it out from under the mattress where you hid it three years ago. There you go, dust it off and begin, no further delays; that spider probably thought he had until tomorrow too.

Sometimes things appear more achievable when we think about them futuristically, when they’re way off and not right there in our faces–but in terms of next week or a month from now, not so much. Some of us have a little more courage than others and simply go ahead and do it, so we can check it off our list. But, for a lot of us, it might not be that easy. We might need a little nudge (okay, a great big shove) in the right direction. If that’s the case with you, why not start with something on your list that’s simple.

Like me, I’ve never been to a play (I know, horrified gasps everywhere), but it’s always been something on my “I’ll Do It Some Day” list. Going to a play is more than doable–and I need to just go ahead and get it off my list already, right? For you, it might be traveling. Maybe you’ve always wanted to take that special trip somewhere and don’t know where to start, or even which country you’d like to visit. The naturally spontaneous at heart use strategies like dart throwing to select their destinations. They find a map, throw a dart, and wherever it lands, Voila, that’s where they go! For the not-so-spontaneous, there are great books at DCPL that can give you some ideas. For example:

Italy’s Best Trips: 38 Amazing Road Trips, written and researched by Paula Hardy, Duncan Garwood & Robert Landon Italy

The Best Place to Be Today: 365 Things to Do & the Perfect Day to Do Them, compiled and edited by Sarah Baxter

World’s Best Travel Experiences: 400 Extraordinary Places, foreword by Andrew McCarthy, with recollections by Bill Bryson, Anna Quindlen, and more

1,000 Places to See Before You Die, by Patricia Schultz

When travels take you to foreign destinations or distant shores, you’ll want to at least be able to ask for a bottle of their fine wine in the native tongue. I’m just saying, why, you may need to brush up on your foreign language skills. The Library can provide you with helpful information in this area as well, from learning the very basic everyday language that will enable you to survive your trip without accidentally saying something to land you in jail, to material that will help you become a bit more fluent and sophisticated in your speech (should you have to meet with the Ambassador). In particular, you might want to try our online resources Mango or TeLL Me More.

And, if there is absolutely no way you’re getting on a plane, that’s still not a problem because there are other options closer to home to choose from:

Hiking Georgia: A Guide to the State’s Greatest Hiking Adventures, by Donald W. Pfitzer and Jimmy Jacobs, with photography by Polly Dean

60 Hikes within 60 miles: Atlanta including Marietta, Lawrenceville, and Peachtree City, by Randy and Pam Golden

Road Biking Georgia: A Guide to the Greatest Bicycle Rides in Georgia, by John T. Trussell

Your bucket list includes all the things you’d like to do before kicking the proverbial bucket–maybe a goal, dream or experience you’d like to fulfill before the sun sets on your life. They can range from the simplest of things, like taking a cooking class, donating blood or volunteering at a soup kitchen–to ones that border on the line of outrageous, like skinny dipping, crashing a wedding or covering your entire car with post-it notes. The sky is the limit.

What you put on your list might seem mundane to others, but don’t let that deter you. Or, it might seem over the top, silly or even outrageous to others. Go ahead and do it anyway–if it’s not hurting anyone (and you’re not committing a felony), go for it. And hey, you might even get a few raised eyebrows along the way from the people who thought they knew you oh-so-well, but that’s okay, too. You’re doing this for you.

Below, I’ve listed twenty things that came up on the bucket lists of different people across the globe. I wouldn’t mind trying some of them myself; others simply stirred my curiosity, as I’m sure they will yours. There is also a cool website bucketlist.net where you can view pages and pages of entries of what others put down as their number ones. Some of them will surprise you and, who knows, some may even inspire you and change your life.

  • Run a marathon (for fun)
  • Make a world map of all the places you’ve been
  • Publish a story, article or poem
  • Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  • Go on a road trip with friends
  • Attend a Masquerade Ball
  • See the Seven Wonders of the World
  • Party with the Black Eyed Peas
  • Eat a hot dog on Times Square, NYC
  • Visit the Anne Frank House
  • Take a cruise
  • Fly first class
  • Ride a double decker bus in London
  • Knit and donate 100 scarves to the homeless
  • Attend a Dancing with the Stars show
  • See the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve
  • Ride a horse
  • See all fifty states in the U.S.A.
  • Volunteer at a hospice
  • Plant a tree and watch it grow through every season

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Dea Anne M. April 11, 2015 at 10:49 AM

Great post, Camille on a subject well worth thinking about. My ‘bucket lists” almost always seem to involve some sort of travel. Flying first class is certainly one of them along with:

Visiting every county in Ireland
Buying fabric in Asia
Going to the Museo del Prado in Madrid to see my favorite painting – “Las Meninas” by Velaszquez.

Camille April 13, 2015 at 11:58 AM

Thanks Dea Anne

Denise April 14, 2015 at 6:40 PM

Thanks Camille, for getting me to think about making time for more fun.

Wanda April 18, 2015 at 10:41 AM

Thank you!

Shantrice April 28, 2015 at 4:46 PM

This was a good post. A few of the things I’d like to do before The End is go to a Cirque du Soleil show, ride a horse (after getting over my fear of them), go to the Olympics, see the giant sequoia trees, and of course go to a car and/or motorcycle show.

Camille April 29, 2015 at 3:32 PM

Shantrice maybe we could tackle the horses together.

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