There is this exercise I read about years ago in which the author asked readers to write two obituaries: One based solely on the reader’s current life, and the second, a dream version. Then compare.
In the end, plane tickets were bought, life crisis had, art classes embraced and then dropped.
I’ve always had very specific instructions for my family surrounding my eventual passing. One, donate all my organs. If it could possibly help someone, they can have it. Two, cremate me and sprinkle my ashes at June Lake. Or should I decide a burial plot is more my style, play “Drop It Like It’s Hot” on bagpipes while I’m lowered into the ground. Three, throw a massive party with a dance floor and unlimited beer, book exchanges, and seven layer dip.
Weirdly enough, this part has always been easy for me to plan and talk about — which disturbs and now annoys my mother when I remind her, “Play DROP IT LIKE ITS HOT. On bagpipes. The bagpipes are key Mum.” But writing a bucket list and actually achieving all my life goals feels completely overwhelming. Who actually accomplishes all they set out to do? I’ve carried around this obit outline for two years, accomplishing one of my major goals, “Move to New York City.” Along the way I’ve realized that if I nurture each item at a time, I might just live out that “animal loving, writer with a big voice who danced through the world” obit I’ve always hoped to leave behind.
Carly Christine’s Bucket List (at age 25)
- Travel through a life-size maze. This has been my dream since I was 5.
- Publish an influential article with the New York Times and New York Magazine.
- Create a lifetime of writing and photography that positively impacts the world.
- Move to New York City. (DONE)
- Get a tattoo. (DONE)
- Travel to more countries than I have fingers and toes. Highlights if possible: Peru, South Korea (DONE), Taiwan (DONE), all of Europe, China, Egypt, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Antartica, Cuba, Brazil, Iceland, Sri Lanka. Just all the places.
- Finish Infinite Jest.
- Do something wonderful with Voices.
- Become a certified sex educator.
- Become a certified yoga teacher and though it feels terrifying, teach an actual class. If it’s as magical as I hope, become a trauma sensitive yoga teacher specializing in providing resources to survivors of violence.
- Go on a yoga retreat. (DONE)
- Take a backpacking trip through the Sierras.
- Hike a new mountain every year.
- Learn at least one song on the ukelele.
- Make a stain glass window with my Mum.
- Learn to make German food from Grandma’s recipe.
- Adopt puppies and kittens.
- Fall head over heels in love.
- Practice on pointe again.
- Learn how to make pottery.
- Take piano lessons/singing lessons/art classes as an adult.
- Learn how to code.
- Take parents on surprise trip adventure.
- Take friends on surprise trip adventure.
- Build my own library in my home.
- Visit Club 33 at Disneyland.
- Go with Dad on ice fishing trip in Alaska.
- Summer holiday in the Hamptons with friends.
- Create line of sex positive greeting cards that open up conversations about safe sex, consent, STD testing, and boundaries.
- Own property. If all dreams are possible, also own a tiny cabin in June Lake.
- Finish watching the “X-Files” and “The Wire.”
- If lucky enough, start a family.
- Change the world for the better.