Friday, February 1, 2013

Things to do Before I Die

I seem to have stumbled on several of these lists recently, and it has made me think. There are things I intend to do one day, things I should like to do, things that I imagine would be worth doing, and things which, thinking about it carefully, I believe I will be glad I have done when I reflect on my life as it ends. The items on this list make up a collection of aspirations old and new that may be fitted haphazardly into these or other categories.

Some people seem to copy each other, rather than thinking how they themselves would respond to the experience in later life. And some of the things that regularly crop up are surprisingly mundane. Why does everybody want to swim with dolphins? Or eat at the world’s best restaurant, or stay at the world’s best hotel? Or appear as an extra in a film, or just appear once on the television? I expect all of those things are fun if you get the chance, but I don’t see them as justifying existence in the mind of the moribund. But on the whole they show how different we all are, how individual are our dreams and aspirations and fears, and that fact alone makes life a fascinating adventure. So here are my ideas:

Buy a microlight plane (and fly it, because I find the idea of moving around the country by air and seeing it from above very compelling)

Learn to ski jump (because it looks like tremendous fun and I want to feel it)

Cross Siberia by train (the journey must be very beautiful, and the sense of being lost in a place that is far more interesting than you yourself could ever be must be wonderful)

Travel in northern India (because I think there are things there worth seeing, things to learn about what people have been and can be)

Understand Sanskrit literature as well as I sometimes pretend to (a genuinely satisfying intellectual achievement)

Understand the origins of humanity and human consciousness (I rely on other people to provide the information that I will then try to understand, and at the moment they still have a lot of work to do)

Own a shark (not that I need great pick-up lines anymore, but that one takes some beating. And I like sharks)

Open the bowling for England (overtaken by events many years ago)

Have a passionate affair with Goldie Hawn (also overtaken by events many years ago)

Discover whether there is such a thing as spiritual enlightenment

If there is, achieve it (contingent on previous)

Win a Nobel Prize for (preferably) Literature (this is more something to work towards than to achieve. A kind of distant reference point for my little scribblings)

Learn to accept death (useful in itself)

Learn to play a mean game of chess (I used to be a mathematician, I’m supposed to be good at chess, but I have never got beyond not-quite-embarrassing)

Express something worthwhile by drawing (I would discover something about the world that I had not imagined)

Likewise through music/the guitar, for the same reason

Make a parachute jump (because it is the single most terrifying thing I can think off, and to overcome the irrational fear would be very satisfying and beneficial)

Walk around the world (if that is rather impractical, I would settle for walking across Africa from Port Said to Cape Town, or the Americas from The Magellan Strait to Alaska)

Nº 1 on any such list: Live. Many people forget to do this. They are too busy not dying, or doing other things of minor importance.

Comments, additions, ideas, other people’s lists, are very welcome.

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