Everyone talks about Bucket Lists and F*ck It Lists and the Top Ten Things To Do Before I Die…it makes an ordinary Joe(sephine) wonder—what are my dreams?
I ran across the term yet again today and was forced to ask myself, what is on my bucket list?
What even is a bucket list? Is it a bunch of stuff you’d like to do but likely never will? Or is it a bunch of stuff you have a good chance of doing if you set your mind to it? Because, let’s be honest, there is a huge difference.
If, for example, I had “going to the moon” on my list, I’m pretty sure it ain’t gonna happen. Unless I also have “become a Backstreet Boy” on the same list, in which case…still probably not gonna happen. As opposed to “inhale and exhale 100 times in a row without checking my Facebook” which is definitely possible, but which, depending on your internet dependence, is either more or less likely.
So how big do I dare to dream? Or better, how honestly do I dare to dream? Where should I draw the line between fantasy and realism? What are my dreams anyway? Have I ever even let myself consider them in their totality? I don’t think I have.
Oh my God, I’m 44 years old and I still don’t know how to dream!
That stops now. Here is my list. Going to the moon is not on it, and maybe these don’t seem like big dreams in the grand scheme of things, but they are mine and that is all.
1) Have enough money so that when I get old I don’t have to eat cat food.
Seriously. This is number one on my bucket list.
When I lived in the East Village in Manhattan I had several elderly neighbors who were routinely eating stuff intended for pets to survive. It sucked.
Also, in my later days in New York, I myself was reduced to such humiliations as homelessness and stealing packages of Carl Budig sandwich meat from my corner deli, and I really, really don’t want to experience that again.
Call me crazy.
2) I want people to remember me as a good person.
In a sense, this really doesn’t belong on a bucket list, as it can only be realized post-mortem, nonetheless, I am including it. It seems like a reasonable goal.
3) I want to make peace with my body.
Ah, my poor body and the shit I have subjected it to. The hatred, the starvation, the binging, the purging, the drugs…the tight jeans.
I fantasize about a time I can stand in front of the mirror naked, under the scrutiny of unflattering lighting, and feel unapologetic joy. Actually, I would be satisfied with simply putting on a swimsuit and marching proudly to the beach with my sarong fluttering haphazardly behind me in the wind—covering nothing. Just envisioning that takes my breath way.
4) I want to be brave.
When people don’t like me, I want to say, “That’s okay! My ship is still steady!”
When I see something beautiful, I want to know that my estimation of it is all that matters—I don’t need a second opinion.
When I feel something beautiful, I want to express it like a lion roars, making the earth tremble and the birds take pause.
5) I want to make art.
Tangential to being brave, I want to make art that is honest, original, smart, gorgeous and relevant. I am willing to spend every day for the rest of my life practicing making this kind of art, in the hopes that by the time I’m done I’ll have one or two worthy pieces.
They can be small pieces, they can be a few words strung together with absolute perfection, a single photograph, or one mouthful of something transcendent, as long as whatever it is casts a shower of sparks over the path of whoever encounters it.
6) And finally, I want to have adventures and I want to be smart enough to realize what adventures actually are.
Sure, they can take place as I toil up the side of Mount Kilimanjaro (which I would certainly love to do), but they can also take place in the produce aisle, when I pluck a tomatillo from the shelf, never having eaten one before, and determine that today, not only will it be eaten, it will be felt, cooked, loved and thoroughly savored.
Yeah, other people might have stuff like “meet Dolly Parton” on their bucket lists (which was the thing I read today that got me on this topic in the first place…that’s what I get for flipping through People Magazine at the hair salon), but I guess I’m just a simpler woman.
Even so, my dreams, as humble as they are, sometimes seem insurmountable.
But I suppose that’s what real dreams are made of; a pinch of impossible, a dash of grandiose, and a good strong splash of believing they can happen anyway.
Dream your dreams, my friends, whatever they may be, and I’m assuming we will never run into each other in the cat food aisle…but if we do, I hope we can consider that a worthy adventure too.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman