This has been a summer of feeling my mortality. Even as I pen these words on a quiet Sunday morning, I am not quite at ease in my own skin.
Years ago, back in the 1990s sometime, I read an article in one of the women's magazines—Women's Day or Family Circle—about creating a "50 things to do before you die" list. This was long before "bucket lists" became part of our everyday conversations. If I remember, the author's point was the same one everyone always makes when it comes to such things: Time doesn't stop. If you do not conscientiously think about what you want to do and then do some of those things, you will one day look back and say "why didn't I...?"
Over the years, I would note one or two things for my 50 Things list. In 2002, I actually sat down and wrote one, topping 60 items by the looks of it. (Yes, I have that list. No, I am not sharing it.) In 2008, I sat down again and revised the list. The 2008 list was shorter by half, reaching only some 30 items. (I have a copy of that one too and no, I am not posting it either.)
A lot of life has intervened since 2002. A whole lot. A lot more has happened since 2008.
This morning, in a "time is short and the water rises" mood, I printed out both lists and made some halfhearted notes on each. Then I pulled out a fat yellow marker and, not paying any attention to "how many" items I had, highlighted the ones that still spoke strongly to me.
When I got done and counted, there were seven items splashed with yellow.
When I add holding Ramona Dawn in my arms, an item not even imagined in 2008, the list jumps to eight. (This will be the easiest one to mark off, as planning is well under way for an Oregon trip in the months to come.)
I have to laugh at myself. Only eight items on my list? That's all? Am I selling myself (and my dreams) short? Or am I merely focusing on those things that remain sweetest and most appealing to me (outside of the daily mix of my life, including family, marriage, and community)?
We do not come into this world with an expiration date stamped on our arms. On our soul, perhaps, or coded into our DNA, but not anywhere on our outward shell. The very mystery of its span is what makes life so achingly precious.
I don't want a bucket list. I'm not shooting ducks at a carnival looking to win a Kewpie doll. But maybe, just maybe, I will try a little harder to check off a few of those items on my list.