Friday, May 10, 2013

Mind your own bucket list!

George Carlin said he wasn’t afraid of being dead, just getting dead. 

But nowadays, many of us seem to expect an empty dance card after we cross the threshold.  How else can we account for the rise of the “bucket list”?  Gotta cram in a lot of living, because once you’re dead…Well!  Nothing to do.   

As an aside - An easy way out of this conundrum is to adopt a belief in reincarnation.  Takes the pressure off.  Plenty of time to get to Niagara Falls.   

Of course that approach could be disastrous for procrastinators. 

Anyway, we’re inundated with these lists.  Sure, we all want to see the Great Wall.  Fair enough.  Go hot air ballooning?  OK. 

But the other day I got one of those email chain letters containing someone else’s bucket list, apparently as a yardstick asking, “What have you done in your life anyway?”   

This one admonishes me to “Play along - Whether you've done this before or not, be a good sport!  Do it again.”  

Of course, being a good sport is on my bucket list - my list of things I really must get around to sometime when I’m not such a crab.   

And after all, it’s so simple to join the fun:  Just place an X by all the things you've done on this list, and remove the X from the ones you have not yet done, (but like any normal person must be hankering to do).  Then, and this is where I came in, send it on to at least six of your do-nothing friends. 

But this isn’t a compilation of exhilarating activities or thrilling locales for which the human spirit yearns.  This one’s more a chronicle of stuff the originator of the chain has done over the course of his life reflecting everything from the mundane to “Really?  You really hope to do that before you die?”   

No, this a “look what I’ve done that you probably haven’t done list.”  Or maybe it’s a “look at what I’ve done since I left the holler” list, shuffled together with “some things I saw pictures of in National Geographic.”  

For example, the first thing on the list is “shot a gun” and the second is “gone on a blind date.”  Now why these two things would be numbers one and two in a must-do catalog is hard to fathom, neither being all that life affirming, if memory serves.   

Although, maybe if I’d had a gun back in the day, on that blind date, I could have discouraged the guy whom I’ve referred ever since as “Clammy Hands Hank.”   

Another accidental pairing on the list is the juxtaposition of “skipped school” and “visited Canada.”  As it turns out, I’ve done both.  But my adolescent shenanigans and summer vacations don’t seem nearly as life altering as those of the guys from the ‘60’s who skipped school for the purpose of going to Canada.  Put that on your bucket list. 

I also checked off “camped in an RV” and “cried yourself to sleep,” though I doubt the list maker envisioned the cause-effect relationship that created that outdoor catastrophe. 

Still, I’m playing along.   

Let’s see.  It’s probably an overstatement to claim my single sad attempt at “waterskiing” as “having a near death experience,” but I’m marking both those off anyway. 

A couple of things on the list had me feeling wistful:  Riding a Segway.  No!  Not really!  Dog sledding…Ha ha!  Just driving the point home. 

It’s not my list!  Maybe I’ll modify this list.  You know, make it my own. 

My wish?  To go to some of these places without having to go through airport security. 

I’d just like to whisk myself away to the Galapagos Islands without actually having to pack, commute to the airport, stand barefoot on the cold linoleum, be surveyed in a public x-ray while feeling liked a plucked chicken, wedge myself into the middle seat, and fly for 12 hours while making nice with someone else’s Aunt Julia and telling my bladder “no.”  

So maybe my bucket list item is to live long enough to travel by transporter beam.  

In short, I want to be there without having to get there.  I think George Carlin would understand.