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Tips For Adulthood: Five Things To Do Before You Die

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood. Over on Middle-Age Cranky, Howard Baldwin has a great post entitled Oh, The Places You’ll Go. In...

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

Over on Middle-Age Cranky, Howard Baldwin has a great post entitled Oh, The Places You’ll Go. In it, he lists all the places he’s always wanted to visit but which for various reasons – political strife, travel restrictions, inertia – have remained “off limits.” And now, as he settles into middle age, he wonders if he’ll ever actually make it to any of them.

I loved this post because it reminds us that as we get older, we start to fashion our proverbial “bucket lists” –  a list of all the things we want to do before we  die. I’m not talking here about the small stuff – e.g. losing five pounds, finally visiting Great Aunt Sally on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I’m talking about those bigger, more daunting challenges that we set for ourselves because they speak to some deep-seated desire or personal quest.

We all have those lists, whether formalized or not. One of my friends wants to run a marathon on all seven continents. (I think he’s up to four or five by now.) Another has sworn that she’ll open her own coffee import/export business.

These Wednesday posts are meant to serve as advice, but obviously, every person’s bucket list will be different. So the advice here is really to create your own list and then figure out how you can begin moving towards realizing some of your goals.

I’ll go first:

1. Read the bible. Yeah, I realize that this might sound kind of pedantic. But the fact is, while I’ve read assorted sections of the bible – and attended religious education classes for something like 12 years – I don’t really feel like I have a very good handle on the Good Book in its entirety. So I’d actually like to sit down and read it – start to finish – and see what I make of it. (And yes, I do know that I could just use David Plotz’ book as crib notes, but that feels like cheating.)

2. Perform In Community Theater. Coming from someone who has openly admitted her fondness for Show Tunes and her abiding love of Glee!, this particular goal shouldn’t be all that much of a surprise. But this is one of those elusive goals that keeps getting away from me. I took a drama class a few years back and one of my classmates now performs at various small venues around London. He’s kept his day job (as a banker) but he has clearly made drama a priority in his life. And every time he invites me to one of his performances, I feel simultaneously happy for him that he’s pursued this goal…and envious.

3. Take a safari. I’m not a big animal lover. But the idea of taking a Safari through Africa and seeing all those animals out in the wild has always captured my imagination. Who knows? Perhaps I’m just secretly hoping that a monkey will take a photograph of me.

4. Learn a new language. I love languages. I majored in Spanish and French in college. But I’d love to really challenge myself and learn a really difficult language, like Arabic or Chinese, as an adult. Or even Finnish. And then go spend a lot of time in a country that speaks that language. Oh to be 21 again.

5. Learn to Drive In the U.K. Enough said.

What’s crazy about this list is that – with the possible exception of the Safari – these are all eminently doable. And yet, I still haven’t managed to get any of them done. Which I suspect may be true for others as well.

So spill it. What’s on your bucket list? Tap Dancing? Machu Picchu? Cordon Bleu?

Do tell.


Image: 2011.01.01 Bible by Gerard’s World via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

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  1. Lisa July 13, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    At 54, things have shifted. I find that most of all I want to work with what I have to make it perfect.

  2. Mike T. July 13, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    1) Reading the entire Bible might be daunting. You might want to consider breaking it up into a collection of smaller units that still yield some fascinating insights (the Pentateuch, the four Gospels, the Epistles of St. Paul), before, in time, going on to another set of such units. In other words, do it in manageable bites. (Would anyone ever read ANNA KARENINA without chapters?)

    2) I, too, am fascinated by languages. Learning Latin would be an enormous help for improving vocabulary. Learning Irish, on the other hand, would be a great way of understanding the linguistic patterns that persisted through generations of your ancestors and mine, even when English law and circumstance (the Great Famine of the 1840s) made many forsake speaking it.

  3. Delia Lloyd July 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    @lisa-what a nice thought. Perhaps I have that to look forward to-not wanting “more” but “better.” @mike-thanks for the tip. Point well taken. And yes, I’d love to learn Irish too. Enjoy Chattauqua-I was there many years ago and thought it was lovely.

  4. Åsa July 13, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    1. Speak French
    2. Go to the Galapagos Island
    3. Organise and print out all my photos in perfect photo albums. Especially the children’s photos since they where born
    4. Make short and nice movies of the children
    5. Find a career (not just a job as Chris Rock said in your previous Friday Tips you tube clip)
    6. Lear to cook and bake healthy food
    7. Go to bed when tired. ;) Good night and thanks again for a nice blog!

    • delialloyd July 14, 2011 at 9:28 am #

      Thanks for this, Asa-can totally relate to all of them especially #5. You and me both, baby. Look forward to seeing you in Sept. xx

  5. Maya July 14, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    I’ve just embarked on a ‘read-the-Bible-all-the-way-through’ project (I talk about it here:

    I’ve found it easiest to think of it as a story, and to read fairly quickly – I want to get a sense of the overarching themes, so am trying not to get too bogged down in details. I’ve also found Fee and Stuart’s ‘How to read the Bible book-by-book’ quite helpful – it gives a brief introduction to each book, sets the scene and themes, and then gives a brief commentary on sections of text. Just enough information to help me understand what’s going on, without so much detail that I spend more time reading commentary than the Bible itself!

    As for me – I’d love to learn Latin, go on a week-long silent retreat, and go to places where you can see the Northern Lights and the Milky Way.


    • delialloyd July 14, 2011 at 9:58 am #

      Thanks so much for this, Maya-I will have a look and take your advice. I think I definitely need a primer to make it thru the Bible. Re: Northern Lights – yes!

  6. Daryl Boylan July 15, 2011 at 1:11 am #

    Travel more — especially to Rome & Barcelona again, the national parks I’ve not yet seen, the state of Oregon, Prince Edward Island & Newfoundland & Norway/Sweden.

  7. Cecilia July 15, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    Great post, Delia! I like the idea of not just thinking about these goals but actually writing them down. I too would love to go on a safari someday. Doable, don’t you think?? Otherwise a huge one that I honestly never expected to achieve in this lifetime was to learn to swim – I was always so terrified of water. But I finally did it last year, at 41! Other goals include:

    – visiting China, where my roots are (I should have no excuse not to go)
    – visiting India and Peru (Peru is my birthplace…have not gone back since I was 3)
    – do a yoga retreat
    – become an “athlete” in some way (in big quotes)…I was always one of those kids who was picked last in gym class and never had confidence in my body’s abilities
    – become a real estate investor
    – write a memoir, even if just to pass down within my family

  8. delialloyd July 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    @cecilia=I love this list, esp the one about becoming an “athlete” as a grown up…I too was picked last in gym class. I think I thought it might be swim for me, but I’m not much of a swimmer (tho’ well done you for getting into the water and conquering that fear!) Also love the investment thing-i’d love to make some money off of property and have no earthly idea how to do it….here’s to accomplishing all of this (and more)!

  9. Cathy July 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    I was a history major in college and in one of my Ancient History classes I had to read the bible as a historical text. Pretty neat thing to do IMO.

  10. Fran Rossi Szpylczyn July 20, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    What a fantastic post Delia! I am just seeing it now, and short on time, but here is my input.

    I have been most fortunate to cross some major travel things off my list. If anyone has Machu Picchu or Petra on their lists, I simply say do what you can to go go go. It is quite dear but if it can be done, go. I did it at a time when I had more cash, so grateful that I spent it then, rather than not!

    As for the Bible, I say read it but I personally do not recommend starting at the beginning and going through… I’d choose books of the Bible and work my my around them.

    OK, enough commentary! My own wishes…

    1. Return to Israel, Jerusalem specifically. I have political issues galore with Israel, even though I am half Jewish, but having been there twice, I can only tell you that my neshama longs deeply to return for many reasons.

    2. Learn to speak Spanish fluently – I was almost there at another time in my life, but now… No, not even close.

    3. Get a book published. I am my own worst enemy here and that does not even address some of the practical issues.

    4. Go on a silent retreat at a monastery.

    5. Walk the Camino in France and Spain.

    How I could go on and on but I will stop there!

    Thanks Delia!

    • delialloyd July 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

      Thanks for dropping by,. @Fran. I love the silent retreat idea -oohhh this is so much fun, hearing about other people’s secret goals….Jerusalem rocks-right there with you. And I need to get myself to Maccu Picchu STAT.

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