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Thursday, December 26, 2013
The Gravy List
I don't know what I think about bucket lists. I'm not sure that life needs to be judged like a list, just checking things off and then determining happiness or success, or how good a life lived was based on check marks. But I do make lists. And my mind seems to function more efficiently when I've created and am working from a list.
I was thinking the other day about a "gravy list," a list of those things that don't determine whether you've lived a good life--let's leave that to things like character and family, legacy, satisfaction--but a list that we each create to say, you know, life is cool, but it'd be even cooler if I was able to do some of these things.
So I present, 10/11 items, in no particular order, that comprise my gravy list.
1. Complete a rim-to-rim trail run of the Grand Canyon. Running one way it's a little more than 20 miles. It's been done as an out and back run, 40+ in a day. That's great, but I'm just looking for the basic. Here are some details and helpful training tips. In my experience, the natural world, and cities for that matter, are best experienced on foot. Trail running stirs my soul as few other activities have. I'd love to cross the Grand Canyon, on foot, with some running peeps, in a day.
2. Attend Washington Nationals spring training games. I've written here a number of times about our family's fandom for the Nats. I've been following baseball since I was a kid, collecting baseball cards, pouring over statistics. Our girls don't like watching football in the least, but they love going to Nats games. I've always thought it would be cool to go to a few spring training games, warm weather, laid back, getting to see the team as they gear up for the season. I don't need to go to all the games, just a couple.
3. Complete a book-length manuscript. I'm a writer. It's what I love, it's what I spend much of my time doing, or thinking about, or working on, etc. To this point, my writing has taken the form of essays, reflections, articles, stories, aphorisms, fragments, poetry, etc. I haven't wrapped my head around a big, book-length project. I've got some ideas I'd like to explore.
4. Buy/drink a beer with a living writer whose work I dig, but who I've never met. Maybe this is a fan boy thing, but it's also wanting to talk shop, pick the brain, hear stories from someone I've read and enjoyed, someone who is doing the kind of stuff I'd like to do. A way to say thanks and to learn. There is not one particular person I have in mind, but I can think of a number of them.
5. Take a hut-to-hut family hike in the White Mountains, via the Appalachian Mountain Club. The White Mountains were a game changer for me. I've written about it on here and our hut-to-hut adventures became part of a Trail Runner Magazine feature I wrote on fastpacking. In this case, I'm not talking epic in terms of miles, but expanding the notion of epic with our girls. Something easy, starting at Pinkham or the Highland Center, going to the nearest hut for the night and heading back. Something to let them know what is out there. We live on the panoramic Eastern Shore of Maryland. It is beautiful, but flat. The girls get excited for the hills of western Pennsylvania. I'd love for our family to imbibe the whole AMC experience.
6. Attend a Liverpool Football Club game at Anfield. I've been bitten by the English Premier League soccer/football bug to be sure. I've also never left the United States--I've been from the Florida Keys to Maine to California, but never had a passport. My life won't be incomplete if I never get a passport. But hearing Reds fans singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" in unison would be a different kind of sports spectating experience. And the writer in me, and the beer drinker in me, would want to add to the trip with pub life and a day hike through the Lake District, in the footsteps of Wordsworth, maybe a stop through the Eagle and Child Tavern, a la Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams.
7. Complete a full arm tattoo sleeve of personal images and symbols. I'm on my way with my right arm sporting an elemental heron and an image form a rune with St. Patrick and snakes. My tattoos have been slower going, based on finding an image/symbol with deep, personal meaning, and time and money to get it done. But, as folks with tattoos know, the scheme digs in, the feeling, the result, walking around as a personal art gallery, yeah, sign me up.
8. Attend a Sonny Rollins concert. I prefer old school jazz to contemporary. The legends I dig listening to are mostly gone. Rollins is still touring at 82 years old. If you want some more background, Men's Journal ran a great story on Rollins in September. When Rollins was thought to be one of the top saxophone players out there, he pulled back and spent three years playing on the Williamsburg Bridge just to get even better. There is only one Saxophone Colossus.
9. Deliver a Sunday sermon. I'm not fully sure why this is on here. Part of it is an embrace what you fear approach. I'm not big on public speaking. I don't pretend to know anything profound that I could impart by means of a sermon. But I like the idea of exploring an idea, history, humor, personal experience, stories, and life with a group of folks in that way. Maybe I might even come up with something to say.
10. Create a recurring comic strip/series/story, working with an artist/illustrator. Through middle school, I devoured Marvel Comics, mostly Daredevil, The Avengers, The X-Men. Comic strips such as Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts and Pearls Before Swine, condense humor, wonder, compassion, hard knocks and friendship into memorable images and turns of phrase. We live in a visual age. I love the idea of visual storytelling. I've been reading graphic novels of late and digging the work of Matt Fraction, Frank Miller, Rick Remender. I'm not sure how, where I/we'd start, but I've been formulating some ideas. And we live in a digital age where many things are possible.
So there are ten. If I included 11, the next would be learning to play the piano. But let's stick with ten. This is above and beyond kids' field hockey games and days at the beach or park, making time for date nights and time with friends and family. Those things are the framework. The meat, with apologies to vegetarians. These ten things, they're the Gravy List.