Before Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman made that movie and before anyone even knew what a Bucket List was, I created mine. I was 14-years-old. The world was so big, but my little piece of it seemed so small. I wanted to trade perfectly manicured rows of corn for dusty Mexican highways and the open waters of the Pacific. I longed to give up the vast rolling hills of Iowa and plunge into the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia or scream from the peak of a mountain. And I wanted to learn the Mamba.
At age 14 I sat down and wrote out my Bucket List. I’ve been carrying this piece of paper around for 15 years. There’s still a tiny hole in the corner from when it held its place on my pink bulletin board. Lately it’s been hidden among shopping receipts and old mail. I love pulling out my Bucket List and seeing in that young girl’s handwriting that she dreams of seeing the bright lights of New York and feeling the rush of skiing a black diamond. I love being reminded that simply tasting lobster or caviar for the first time can be a life-experience worth remembering. I want her to know that number six– para-sail– is going to become a cherished memory since it was accomplished with her best friend Jessica who will only be around a few more years. I want to tell her that when she runs her first marathon she needs to wake up earlier so she has time to eat breakfast. And she should know that her first trip to Europe won’t be the best one.
While I accomplished several things on list there are several more that I have yet to experience. But here’s the thing about my Bucket List. I didn’t give myself a lifetime to complete these items, or maybe I did from the eyes of a 14-year-old. I gave myself until I turned 30.
As of next week my 30th birthday will be six months away. And looking at my half-accomplished list throws me into a bit of a panic. Unless my Amazing Race audition tape magically wows the judges, I know I won’t be visiting Egypt, China and Australia over the next six months. I have yet to swim with dolphins, save someone’s life or hike an entire mountain. While I did manage to accomplish number nine ten years ago– buy a cappuccino maker– I have yet to cross off number 11– scuba dive. I haven’t learned sign language, been diving with sharks, or technically invented something (I have the idea just never produced it.) But I’m happy to say that number ten– write a book– should be completed by my 30th birthday, God willing.
I guess it’s ok if I don’t complete everything that the 14-year-old me dreamed of doing in her first three decades of life. I’m excited for her because I know she’ll see more of this world before her 30th birthday than just about anyone else in the entire history of her family. She’ll share breathing space with three former Presidents. She’ll ride in helicopters and a hot air balloon, attend the Olympics and the Oscars, and she’ll literally meet the man of her dreams– spiky hair, side burns and foreign accent included. Her life will be full of more experiences and adventure than any 14-year-old in Iowa could imagine. But I would like to swim with dolphins.