Making a Bucket List

When I first heard of the concept of a bucket list, I thought it silly. I would say, “Just do what you want to do.” As I get older, and find less and less time to do the things I want to do, I see the importance of making a list. If I set everything out in an organized fashion, I might actually be able to get to some of it. So, I am starting a bucket list. This will be a running list, but I’ll start off with the two or three things on my mind now. These, I’d say, are the most important.

  1. Become a published author.
  2. Travel

Yeah, it’s a slow start, but at least it’s a start.

 

-M

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For anyone who likes to say, “If I can do it, anyone can.” This rant is for you.

If I can do it, anyone can.

Every time I hear this phrase I want to say, “Shut the hell up.”

Of course, my southern roots will not allow for me to be so terribly rude, but it does not change my irritation at the phrase. This single phrase is insulting to everyone, including the person speaking it.

We can start with the insult to “everyone else.”

What the hell makes you an expert on what others are capable of? Are you saying if someone else cannot achieve anything and everything you have, they are not good enough? Not trying hard enough?

Guess what? Maybe they aren’t you. Maybe they do not have the same drive. Maybe they don’t want to put in the work.

OR maybe they don’t have the necessary components which create the aptitude and/or abilities necessary for whatever task you are capable of.

Another person’s body may not work or feel quite like yours.

Another person’s pain threshold may be different.

Someone else may not have the aptitude for understanding that which you have excelled or accomplished.

Beyond the mere physical and mental aspects, not all people have the same resources and lifestyles. It is more difficult for a person who works two or three full time jobs to barely get their family through each week to change their life than it is for a single person with no dependents. A person’s circumstances, whether self-created or not, can affect their actions and reactions to life’s challenges.

There is a beautiful concept often cited in psychology called “individual difference.” No matter how many similarities we have, it does not change the fact that we, and our experiences in the world, are not all the same.

Now, let’s forget about “them” and instead talk about the figurative “you.”

I see this phrase as a form of self-deprecation. Why do you have to demean your own accomplishments? You worked hard to accomplish your goals, and to get where you are. Maybe you had help and encouragement from others, but you are still the person who accomplished this feat. Show appreciation for all of the people who helped you along the way, but also show appreciation to yourself for making it through the journey to get where you are. You worked hard, had the talent, or maybe you had the simple, blind, good luck. Whatever the case, you did this, and you should be proud.

Finally, my biggest problem with this phrase; if it were true, no one would ever fail at anything and everyone would be capable of anything.

“If I can lose my excess weight and get in shape, anyone can.”

“If I can learn another language, anyone can.”

“If I can get a Ph.D., anyone can.”

“If I can climb Mount Everest, anyone can.”

“If I can make it to the Olympics, anyone can.”

And the list goes on. If anyone could do it, then it would not be an accomplishment. If anyone could do it, then we would have no winners or losers, no world records, and no “unskilled workers.”

If you have done something difficult, accept that it is an accomplishment. Accept that you have done something exceptional. Accept that you may actually be capable of something not everyone can do, just as other people may be capable of something you cannot do.

Oh, and let’s not forget the simple fact that they just might not want to. You may think cycling is the greatest thing ever, but it’s just not my cup of tea. Get over it.

-M

 

 

Skydiving to prostitution. I should probably seek help.

I like to play the “What If” game. It’s a game that gives leave to the imagination to do as it pleases. The funny thing about my imagination, it likes to play “Worst Case Scenario” when I try to play “What If.”

There are a lot of ways to play “What If.” The most common is probably “What if I won the lottery.” Well, I’d spend a lot of money, hopefully not all of it, but let’s be honest, I’d spend it all then end up broke again. I’d like to think I’m smarter than that, but it’s all a moot point since I don’t play the lottery. This game, though, gets interesting when I begin to think of random events, and my mind goes directly to the absolutely worst possible outcome. This generally ends with me saying “Nope, I’m not going to do that.”

For instance, I’ve never been skydiving. It’s something people do, right? I have plenty of friends who have, or who want to, go skydiving.

So, what if I went skydiving?

I know what you’re thinking. “M, I bet you’re thinking your parachute won’t open and you’ll turn into an M-splat. That’s just unlikely.”

I wish my worst case scenario were so simple. Here’s what would happen if I went skydiving. (Of course I’ll leave out the fact that I would, in reality, have a professional attached to me. This is my fantasy people. It may be screwed up, but it’s 100% my delusional reality.)


The pilot calls out that we’re almost ready to jump. My parachute is secure. It has been checked ten times. I know, I’m the one who badgered them to check it over and over on the way up. I’ve been shaking since I stepped onto the plane, but this is it. I’m going to do it.

I’m going skydiving.

I hesitate at the door. It’s too much, too scary. I remember the brilliant words of Mr. Homolka just before he jumped out of a plane.

“Push me, please. Harder, please.”**

I repeat his words to whomever is behind me. I do not look back to see who it is. If I do, I may retreat. I will not admit defeat.

One quick shove and I’m on my way. I plummet at what feels like a hundred miles an hour. I should be terrified, but I’m exhilarated. My heart is banging wildly in my chest, and it’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever felt. All I can hear is the wind rushing by my ears.

Wait. I hear something. It’s an odd, high-pitched screech.

I see the large bird just before his slams into me. It scratches at me with its talons, and pecks at me with its beak. What is it? An eagle? A hawk? I don’t know anything beyond the pain of it’s beak and talons tearing into my skin. I swing my hands wildly to bat away the creature, but it only attacks more viciously with every hit I land. In my fervent attempt to protect myself I accidentally release my parachute. It’s too early. I’m too high. My descent slows, but this only gives the animal more time to attack. I kick and punch at it now that I am more able to move in my slowed fall. It flaps its wings back only to return within a second. Like a scene from shark week, I watch the animal come towards me again with malicious intent, and I am helpless to stop that attack I know is coming.

I am closer to the ground now, bleeding from all of the cuts and missing flesh the bird has torn away. I’m not even sure I can call it a bird. It seems huge, and more vicious than any bird I have ever heard of. Did someone pull a Jurassic park and bring back pterodactyls without telling me? Shouldn’t that be in the skydiving brochure?

Doesn’t anyone learn anything from movies anymore?

Then the unthinkable happens. A talon catches the ropes attaching me to my parachute. The parachute twists, and I am sent into a free fall once more. I am too close to the ground for the fall to kill me, too high up to walk away unharmed. As I slam into the earth, I feel bones snap all over my body. The sound is deafening, but is quickly overcome by the squawk of the beast, my tormentor, as it descends on me once more.  It pecks at my flesh, attempting to tear away chunks of meat. We are in a field, I realize, there must be some mice or snakes for the animal to capture. But it has captured an animal. It has captured me. I cover my face as best I can, but it is difficult to move.

My companions from the plane begin to land around the field. I can hear them screaming to me, and running to my side. They attack the bird, and it releases its meal.

I am rushed to the hospital alive and in pain. Pain meds course through my veins to keep the worst of the pain away, but that is the least of my worries. The talons that tore into my flesh were used to carry many things, dead things, and they were not clean. An infection runs rampant through my system, and I am losing the battle to control it. Finally, the doctors cut off my leg to stop the progression of the flesh eating bacteria, and I will live.

If that is what you can call it.

I heal as best I can, but the pain meds were too strong; stronger than I. I am addicted, and lost. I cannot walk. I cannot function. I cannot get through one day without that beautiful poison floating through my veins.

The money quickly runs out, and I am unable to find work. I probably wouldn’t if I could.

I resort to prostitution to fuel my needs. It starts of easy. What’s a little show and tell, or a hand job in exchange for peace of mind? Oblivion and peace are kind of the same thing, right? Only, my addiction grows. It overwhelms me, and the meager amounts I get for my solicitous acts is not enough to sustain me. I become a full blown whore.

One day when my regular supplier refuses my services, I don’t know if he is out of stock or just tiring of my withering body, I seek out a new ‘healthcare provider’ to obtain my meds. It is a place I have never been, and my body is not prepared for this batch.

I begin to convulse on the floor, and a foul substance shoots from my mouth. It is nothing to me, of course. I am no longer aware of my existence. Someone is kind enough to dump me in front of an emergency room, and I am saved.

Rehab is not my idea, but I do not have a choice. It is miserable. This is nothing like the rehab Sandra Bullock went to in “28 days.” There is no love, no singing, no fun horses to see. I do not even get to meet, let alone make out with, a hot baseball player.

Rehab sucks, but I get through it.

My sober days don’t last long. When I get out, I am back to my old tricks again. I hobble from place to place, a scarred one-legged junkie just looking for the next score. This time, I hope no one does me any favors.


 

You see, I’m insane.

Also, I’m never going skydiving.

-M

**”Congo” (1995)

Unique little pebble in a bed of pearls, or butterflies, or whatever.

unique

Remember, you’re unique just like everyone else.

I once had a plaque with these words on it. It was a simple, cheap knick knack I found at some random store I can’t even remember. The plaque was only about two inches high, three inches wide, and was a floral arrangement of blue and white that looked like it belonged in some elderly woman’s home, not a college student’s apartment. It was also something that made me smile every time I noticed it sitting on the shelf above my television in my old homestead. I’m not sure where the knick knack is now; probably still sitting in a box somewhere still wrapped in paper from one the moves I’ve made in my seemingly infinite desire to find my place in the world. It doesn’t matter. It’s not the object, but the words I love.

I love the phrase for its innocent truth. I am reminded of the words every time I hear someone talk, or more often see someone write, about how unique they are. “I’m a special little pebble unlike all the rest.” Yes, you are; just like all of the other special pebbles, or pearls, or butterflies, or unicorns, or whatever it is people around you are calling themselves.

I do not mean to mock these people. On the contrary, we all like to think we are unique, and we are. That is the point. No matter how similar we are to anyone around us, we are not the same. We have different experiences, preferences, emotions, and reactions to the world around us. We suffer our differences together and rejoice in our individuality all the same.

Be you, that’s great. Just don’t forget that weird person next to you is just doing the same.

 

-M

Just a thought