Finding time to turn bucket list into reality

BY BOB WACHS, News + Record Staff
Posted 2/22/19

The 2007 movie “The Bucket List,” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, touched the nerves of a number of folks.

Mainly those nerves belonged to people who’d had a few birthdays as …

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Finding time to turn bucket list into reality

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The 2007 movie “The Bucket List,” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, touched the nerves of a number of folks.

Mainly those nerves belonged to people who’d had a few birthdays as they realized they had more behind them than in front. The movie told the tale of two aging friends who took off on a number of adventures — skydiving, seeing the pyramids of Egypt, climbing the Himalayas, eating mounds of caviar, spending late nights in casinos, to name a few — that they want to enjoy before they die, or, in the language of slang, “kick the bucket.”

As I began to reflect on my number of birthdays, as well as those of some folks near and dear to me, I realized I’ve got a bucket list, too...well, sort of one anyway.

Among them are not skydiving. I’m now afraid of heights, although years ago I rode in the front car of any roller coaster I could find. You will not catch me climbing Mt. Everest; it’s too cold. And while I like wood heat, I don’t care for cold weather.

And definitely you will not catch me sitting down to a big ol’ meal of fish eggs or sushi. I would, however, like sometime (which makes this qualify as a bucket list wish) to sit down to a big ol’ meal of thick cut bacon and see just how much I could eat. I think it would be a lot; unfortunately, that may never happen because the folks who got me through my cardiac rehab program said there’s too much salt in bacon. Actually, they said a great deal about my diet, namely that if something tastes good, I should spit it out.

There are other items on my list. Some are major; others not so. One of the major ones is that I’d like to clean out and clean up my study, to go through the piles of newspapers and magazines and books and stuff on the shelves that I’ve saved for some time, all with the intention of reading them “later.” Some of them are stories I’ve started reading while others are copies of stories I’ve written. And books? The only local place with more books than I have is the Chatham County Library or maybe Barnes & Noble. And all that, of course, doesn’t cover the boxes of souvenirs or memorabilia like notes from my children when they lived with me before they were teenagers.

In addition to that room in the house, there’s also the same wish for our attic and a storage/utility building out back. The former contains some really nice clothes I had when I wore a 15½ shirt and a 34-inch waist; to be sure those same days are just around the corner once again. And the latter? Well, in that outbuilding there are some really nice boxes of materials from jobs I had 40 years ago and a number of items that belonged to my parents that they used almost daily 20 years ago.

Sometimes bucket list items can border or come near not only the not major but also the silly. One of those for me is I want to sit in my car when it goes up on the garage lift to have it serviced. I just want to see what it looks like as I gaze out the window. I think that wish comes from a story my father used to tell me about a preacher he knew who did that and sat in his car reading before opening the door to get out...before the car was back on the floor.

There’s one more wish that lurks in the back of my mind. It has to do with a young man my mama named me after — her brother, Robert (Bob) Cooper. He was a corporal in the U.S. Army Air Corps, the forerunner to today’s Air Force, when his B-29 bomber crashed and burned near Copelan, Kansas, in 1944 on its last training flight before going overseas in World War II. Not only did all the crew perish but so, too, did a grandfather and infant grandchild when the plane hit their farmhouse.

Some years ago, a cousin did some exhaustive research on now-declassified documents and produced a play-by-play account of the accident and its investigation. Turns out the co-pilot was flying the big bird and he buzzed the town at tree-top level to impress his girlfriend. When he banked the plane to turn, a wing hit the ground and that was that. The data my cousin produced revealed there are still a few townspeople alive who were there that night; I’d surely like to talk with them.

No doubt you, too, may have such a list. In the movie, the two men wrote theirs down and crossed them off when each was met. It helped that, for them, money was no object in flying a private jet all over the world. For me, money is also no object; most of what I want to do requires only some time. And it’s my fault, to a degree, if I don’t rearrange my time to fit some of those wants.

So, perhaps that’s true for all of us. We can and should control what we can while realizing there are some things we have no control over. I remember a painting of a large sailing ship plowing through turbulent ocean waters as a storm raged all around. Underneath the picture were the words “It’s not which way the wind blows but how you set your sails.”

Today may be the day you pick up your bucket and get started.


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