Writing My 'Anti-Bucket' List
A new topic has been cropping up in conversation lately. People everywhere are comparing their “bucket lists.” Apparently, a bucket list, a term lifted from a recent film of the same name, is the “to do” list of stuff you hope to experience before “kicking the bucket.” That’s a new name for a very old idea. I suppose I must have a “bucket list,” although when I think about it I am struck by the number of my childhood dreams and aspirations which have actually come true. I’m very fortunate that way.
When I began considering a Tim Sample bucket list, the first thing that came to mind was the opposite notion, what you might call a “non-bucket” list. Maybe that would be called an “ anti-bucket list”. Whatever you want to call it, here in no particular order, is a short list of things that I hope I never accomplish or experience prior to sloughing off this mortal coil.
I hope I never:
1. Text-message anyone.
2. Go to an opera.
3. Sail around the world.
4. Read War and Peace
5. Meet Bob Dylan
Let’s take it from the top shall we? Anyone who knows me knows that I view the endless stream of digital gadgets and gizmos currently flooding the global village as a series of increasingly arcane answers to questions nobody was asking. Well, I certainly wasn’t asking! Look, it’s a free country and clearly everybody seems to think that this “texting” business is the best thing since sliced bread. But, have you ever actually tried a knife on that bread? It works great. I’ve heard that texting is the fasting growing form of communication since the dawn of time. Ummmm, if you say so. Personally I still don’t get it and that goes double for “twittering” and whatever else they decide to call the next thirty-seven zillion variations of this sort of nonsense.
Call me a Ludite. But, I won’t mindlessly genuflect at the digital altar of transparency and interaction. You really want to be more transparent and interactive? Is that what’s bothering you Bunky? Not me. Some things (bathroom doors, for example) are better left opaque. And I’ll pass on being “interactive” with most of the other 6.8 billion of you as well. No offence, you understand, I just haven’t got time to be interactive with all of you before that “bucket” business happens , OK?
Which, unfortunately, brings us to the opera. I enjoy music, all kinds of music: hot and cool jazz, rock, folk, bluegrass, country, etc.( I may doze a bit at the symphony.) But I genuinely like chamber music. So what’s wrong with opera? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it. It’s the “screaming” — the blood curdling, smash-the-crystal-goblet, full-throated screaming! You don’t think they’re screaming? It’s screaming, all right. If I suddenly played even five seconds of Beverly Sills at full “ Live-at-the-Met” volume in a crowded shopping mall people would scatter like chickens in a hurricane, crouch frantically behind the nearest potted palm, and dial 911. Or maybe they’d be busy texting somebody. I don’t know. Either way you can leave me out of it. I’ve heard enough genuine screaming to last me a lifetime, thanks.
This business of sailing around the world sure captures the old imagination, huh? Not mine, chummy! Oh, I’ll be the first to admit that I find accounts of such extreme nautical exploits morbidly fascinating. But, mine is a fascination tinged with horror. Aren’t there always terrible catastrophes involved? I seem to recall frequent run-ins with fifty-foot waves and man-eating sharks and what not. This sounds like a good idea to you? It’s a darned tough way to lose fifty pounds if you ask me. But, by all means, when you return to dry land and after you’ve checked “ sail around-the-world” off your bucket list, please join me for dinner and tell me all about it. Oh, did I say “when”? Sorry, I meant to say “if.”
I read a lot of books, a few of them culled from the “weighty tome” isle at the local library. Over the years I’ve slogged through such daunting doublewides as William L. Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, and Varieties of Religious Experience by William James. Currently, between pulpy detective novels, I’m slogging through Ayn Rand’s cinderblock-sized classic Atlas Shrugged. So what’s wrong with Tolstoy’s big blockbuster? I don’t honestly know. I’m just not motivated. Maybe it’s all the hype about “the greatest novel ever written.” I might reconsider this one, though, if Lily Tomlin ever reads it as an audio book, but only if she does all the funny voices.
Lastly, I sincerely hope to kick the bucket before I meet Bob Dylan. Sorry Bob. Had I made a bucket list when I was twenty you’d have been at the very top. But a lot has changed since then. Having now actually “met” folks I’ve secretly admired from afar, including a U.S. president, a couple of bestselling authors, illustrators, and cartoonists, and a smattering of Emmy-, Grammy-, and platinum album-winning entertainers, I’ve nearly always found the experience oddly deflating. I’m not talking about famous people I’ve actually gotten to know as friends. That’s a different thing altogether. I’m talking about the superficial photo-op stuff, a quick handshake, say cheese, and you never see them again. I figure that’s the only way I’d ever meet Dylan and I’ll pass. I have too much I want to talk to him about.
Instead, I guess I’ll just sit here and listen to my Dylan CDs. Maybe I’ll catch him in concert a couple more times. Meanwhile I assume that the rest of you will be following his every move on twitter, perhaps “multi-tasking” as you go sailing alone across a vast expanse of ocean listening to Don Giovanni on your iPod with a copy of War and Peace open on your lap.