But I was reading back over something I wrote 4 years ago regarding this global art installation: http://beforeidie.city/
I loved that this went beyond a simple bucket list. It's point was to make you think critically about where you were in your life. Have you done what you wanted to do? Are there still goals and dreams unmet? What do you REALLY want out of your life.
At the time, then 41 year old me wrote the following five things. I find it interesting that for the most part, four years down the line, most of these are still true.
1. I want to see my children grown, successful, and happy.
Although this is the goal of all parents, when you have children with any kind of additional challenge, be it physical, emotional, psychological, or social, or any combination of those, it becomes the hard focus of your existence to make sure that your children make it to adulthood, and make it there with some level of success. The underlying current of this space is the day to day management of the lives of three people with ADHD. Even though I don't always adult perfectly, generally there is nothing that can't be undone with a little damage control. What I try to pass on to my children is that ADHD is manageable so long as you acknowledge it, and make certain to accommodate those little differences that trip up those of us whose mind is constantly racing about five miles ahead of our mouths and everything else.
My son is learning this slowly, as he tries to put his life together in another state. He is definitely grown; he is working toward the successful and happy part. He is finding tools to jog his memory when he forgets things, he is learning to budget whatever money he receives in a better fashion, and he is learning that emotional control is a tool he will need to employ more often if he wants to live peacefully with the world around him. The key thing here is that he has decided that he wants to succeed on his own, and once anyone makes that decision, and really puts all of their effort into it, they generally make it happen.
My daughter is coming to terms with what tactics she is going to have to employ to complete high school and move on to college. She realizes that she is going to have to keep better track of what needs to be done and when in order to keep her grades up enough to get into the college of her choice. She has decided, for now, that she wants to be a teacher, and she knows that half measures are not going to help her achieve that goal. She is finally acknowledging that she has a few learning differences that she will need to make up for, and that little bit of acceptance will lead , I think anyway, directly to her eventual success.
At least this is what I hope for.
2. I want to finally make peace with my past.
Anyone that manages to live to a certain age is going to have a past. I do. It is a past filled with the kind of life choices that make for everything from funny stories to stuff that I seriously hope people can be open minded about if they ever find out about it. I have made just about every mistake you can think of on the minor side, and a few major mis-steps just to keep things interesting.
It's not surprising that it is the major mistakes that continue to haunt me. Especially the financial and health related actions, and lack thereof, that I am still dealing with the fallout from to this day. The relationship errors were particularly painful, but as time goes by, the pain gets dimmer. It is my hope that as I regain my physical and financial health, that I can finally let go of the memories and mindset that held me trapped in an endless loop of self-recrimination for too many years to count.
3. I want to fall in mutual love with the right person, for once.
I am glad that Cupid is not real.
Because if he was, I would shoot that little jerk dead on sight, torch his bow and quiver, and break all his arrows into as many pieces as I could and scatter them so they could never be found.
Where I am concerned, that little creep has a VERY mean-spirited sense of humor.
Think arrows that only hit one person, or if they do hit both people, there is ALWAYS something wrong that prevents any form or fashion of forward motion. Wrong person, bad timing, "friends" that advise other said person away, and into a more appropriate relationship. It is this last bit that irritates me more than anything else. In the 20-plus years since I realized that boys were for more than playing checkers and cars with, one pattern has NEVER changed: nice-looking boy notices me, it takes me a while to figure out whether or not the person is real, or just being a jerk. Once I figure out Boy is real, I react in my usual clumsy, awkward, but at least sincere way. Which charms some and horrifies others, and leads immediately to either of the following two reactions: those that are charmed by it are immediately talked out of it by well meaning "friends" who remind them that I am too (fill in the blank), and that they can definitely do better; the horrified ones just disappear, either physically or metaphorically. After so many years of the Same. Damn. Thing. Every. Time. I have drastically lowered my expectations of people.
Realistically, I don't really see anything changing for me. I remember taking a silly Facebook quiz that described me as being like that last piece of pizza: Everybody wants you, but nobody dares take you. Odd analogy, but I am starting to see the reality of it. Somehow, I am only approached by men who think I should be glad that ANYBODY is willing to talk to me because I am so (fill in the blank) that I should be grateful for any attention I get. And Dear Dog, let us not talk about connections through friends. I got a term from my younger sister, the Hook-Down. This is when your female friends fix you up with someone without regard to whether or not there might be any mutual attraction, or if you have anything in common: they just want to make damn sure that you have less than they do, relationship-wise.
What I hope, is that at some point, somehow, it all turns out right. Mutual attraction, good timing, and little to no outside interference that can't be handled gently, if it needs to be handled at all. No settling, either: we are both there because we WANT to be there, not because we couldn't get what we wanted, or just took what was offered because we didn't want to end up alone. No one deserves that, I will never do that to anyone, and I can only hope and pray that no one does that to me.
4. I want to be out from under the constant cloud of debt.
This goes along with what I said in item number two. Paycheck by paycheck, bill by bill, I am slowly chipping away at the vestiges of my financial past. I will get there, at some point.
5. I want to know that something I wrote actually helped somebody: maybe to laugh, or give them permission to cry, or just give them something to think about.
This is the hope of all writers. At least I think so. Writing is an exercise of reaching out to the wider world for community and understanding. Whatever we go through in this world, we are never alone so long as we find ways to reach out and continue to talk to each other. Talking to each other is the most important thing we do. It is in that connection that we begin to see each other as we really are: beyond the stereotypes and caricatures to the all too real human beings underneath that are experiencing the same happiness, fear, joy, anger, wonder, resignation, and other emotions that we are. Even separated by state or country lines, or oceans, we are all one community, and we see each other fully when we talk, even through a keyboard.
Although I am about to step into a very busy Saturday, I keep this little list on a mental post-it note stuck to the back of my mind. As I said, I hope I have given you something to think about. What do you want to see happen/accomplish with the time you have left?