Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Try Before You Die


When murderer James Rodgers was asked if he had any last requests before being executed by a firing squad, his needs were simple. "Why yes," he said. "A bullet-proof vest."

And while the hero of Cuban independence José Martí did not include "Liberate a country" in his list, he did name three other important tasks: Plant a tree, write a book, have a son.

I also happen to be one of those people who needs inspiration to keep me charged up and in love with life. So, it is no wonder I have been writing a list of Things to Try Before I Die that I keep topping up with different challenges to keep me goal oriented. Here are my top 15 suggestions for you to try.

  1. Make a pilgrimage. Choose a traditional destination such as Jerusalem, the Vatican or New York. Or you might prefer a site of prehistoric importance, like Stonehenge, Machu Picchu or your primary school grounds. For me, my ideal pilgrimage is to follow le Tour de France all the way from pre-race preps to post-race celebrations. Especially the post-race celebrations.
  2. Experience momentary rebellion. Base jump of the top of the Statue of Liberty, sleep under the stars, or lose more money than you can afford at roulette in Vegas. Personally, I want to be a mother-f****er on a motorcycle - a big, fat, meaty beast of a bike (without a helmet to mess my hair). That, and to get away with using the word f***er in an holistic living magazine.

  3. Steal candy off a baby just to see what happens.

  4. Seek fifteen minutes of fame. Write a best-selling novel - it's a real buzz to see your name in print. Time poor? Become a news crew junky and see how often you can get your mug into their footage. Too ugly? Paint your cat's paws, have her walk over a canvas and exhibit the work as your own. No cat? Hmmm. There's nothing else for it. Become an astronaut.

  5. Believe in romance. Send a message in a bottle. Skinny dip in the south of France. Ride a camel into the desert. Learn how to ballroom dance properly. Memorise a poem. Shower in a waterfall. Play footsies on the Trans-Siberian Express across Asia. Get married by Elvis. Pack a tv and video into a canoe and watch On Golden Pond while drifting on a lake - don't forget an extra long extension cord.

  6. Be part of a television audience. And I don't mean formula-driven, churned-out productions like David Letterman. Although, I did once see him give away a meat tray to a New Zealander. Hmmm, there's food for thighs. Seriously, I would recommend the ABC's The Fat simply because Tony Squires is such a spunk.

  7. Go ten-pin bowling where the pins are reset by hand. See if sticking a bribe in your bowling ball helps your pins to magically fall over on your next shot. Wear matching monogrammed shirts to your partner. Yell steee-rike! like they do in baseball, whether you have a strike or not. Resist stealing the shoes.

  8. Sip a martini with your hero. (Dibs on Tony Squires)

  9. Manipulate your body clock. Convince yourself 5am is the new 7am and get up early - it's amazing how much you can achieve with these extra two hours. You can walk the dog twice as far, write home to your mum, or snooze in the lounge chair in front of the gas heater on Mark 10.

  10. Celebrate Mother Nature's greatest achievements. Swim with a dolphin. Toast Indian Ocean sunsets with chilled champagne. Prune a chardonnay vine. Make love in the majestic Karri, Tuart and Blackwood Forests. Stick a poster of Tony Squires to your bedroom ceiling.

  11. Experience weightlessness. Find a peak such as Baba Dag on the coast of southern Turkey. Take a few running steps and leap into the void. Let the wind carry you weightlessly as you soar a mile above the ocean, circling slowly and elegantly to the beach. Be sure to strap on a harness and paraglider first.

  12. Learn to handle the hard stuff. Tax returns, Jehovah's Witnesses, your banker, a foreign language, unsolicited telephone sales, Icelandic vodka.

  13. Prove the earth is round. Climb aboard a cruise ship and sail in one direction from Sydney until you hit Perth. Or, set up a deck chair north of the Arctic Circle and watch the sun circle above the horizon at summer solstice. Ah, on second thoughts, a jacuzzi might be more appropriate than a deck chair.

  14. Push your limitations. Get a hole-in-one. Ski a double-black diamond run. Brew drinkable beer. Ask a stranger on a date. Master the art of complaining effectively. Forgive your parents. Give a speech in public. Find a job you love. Spend a whole day eating junk food without feeling guilty.

  15. Create a legacy. Some people might donate money or put their name on something like a scholarship, a family tree, a real tree or a bench in the park. Others want their name carried on through generations of children and grandchildren. For me, I want my art, garden and writing to be a lasting reminder of the person I am: someone who crashes through boundaries and explores life with intention.

Now it's your turn to write your own list. Stop procrastinating. There are a thousand reasons to put off til tomorrow what can be done, well, tomorrow. But forget about them. Think about the thousand good reasons why you should just get started now, and begin.


Greg said...

1. Lose consciousness
2. Stop breathing
3. Cease circulation of blood to the brain

Sharon said...

1. See my artwork published on a postage stamp or wine label.
2. Get my black belt in karate before I'm 65 (at 59 I'm currently the "class elder").
3. Focus inwardly and sigh happily, thinking that I have managed to do all that I wished to do before I died.

Marg said...

Golly that didn't take much thinking! I suppose my needs are simple!
1 Feel that my whole family is happy and well settled before I leave
2 Have some grandchildren to cuddle ( I'm in no hurry yet!)
3 Have enough money to live comfortably until I die
4 Discover more about the meaning of life
5 Help people in some way along their life journeys
6 Enjoy a few drinks in the company of my wonderful friends.
7 Travel around Australia in our retirement
8 Enjoy my retirement with Pete
9 Go before Pete (I'm selfish)
10 Have the song "The Honour of your company" by Tom Paxton sung at my funeral

Shanna Thompson said...

- write a book
- marry my soul mate
- go parasailing

Lisa Jane said...

1. pay off the mortgage
2. win lotto
3. use the lotto money to build a school in a poor country
4. go to uni so I can be a teacher at the school I build with my lotto winnings
5. see my 2 daughters living the life that makes them happy
6. get my husband to realise that getting pissed every night is not the answer
7. use leftover lotto money to help a few friends
8. probably get a divorce
9. find someone who truely loves me and my daughters
10. get laser eye surgery so I can see to go snorkelling and swimming
11. steal a kiss from a really cute guy
12. be the person who brings about changes that make the world a better place to live in
13. be remembered for being a nice person
14. learn to laugh at life again
15. lose 10 kilos so I don't have to buy a new wardrobe