June 29, 2010 § 3 Comments
>I’m doing that thing again where I stubbornly sit outside and try to use my laptop, even though I can’t really see the screen, because it finally feels like summer and I don’t want to go inside and be practical, dang it. You’d laugh if you could see my stubborn squinting face.
I was watching late night TV last night/this morning, which I haven’t done in years, and wound up catching a bit on Nightline about The Secret and the booming self-help industry. I don’t know much, but I’m pretty sure that The Secret isn’t really a secret at all. The idea that positive thinking, creating a vision for your future, and believing in the possibility of success will help you to accomplish your goals is as old as religion, as old as logic, as old as dirt. Now, granted, I believe in a God who actively intervenes in our lives, and The Secret is more about quantum theory and mind over matter and self-fulfillment than seeking the will of the Almighty, but it all (prayer, intentional thought, a good attitude, visualizing success) boils down to the same idea: things are more likely to happen if you believe they will happen. If you have faith. If you have hope. If you speak the words and put the idea out there.
Which is why I like bucket lists. There is something powerful about writing down the things you’d like to see happen, about having them visibly before you. I’m more likely to accomplish goals when they are clearly laid out for me. I like assignments, and really, that’s what a bucket list is: life homework. Things to do before the deadline, pun intended.
I’ve been extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to check a lot of big things of my list, which causes me to rethink and restructure and rearrange my priorities so as to always have a goal to push toward. When you aren’t a particularly career-driven kid, it’s easy to become sort of, well, stuck. Bucket lists are a little magical for me because they give me something to aspire to, and some idea of what I really want to be when I grow up.
So here’s my list, as it is today: incomplete, ever evolving, and completely unrealistic – exactly the way I want it to be.
- Learn to sail. Not in a onetimelessoncutelittletourist way, but in an allowmetotakeyououtonmysailboat way
- Get paid to write something/have something published
- Become a competent seamstress
- Set foot on every continent except Antarctica. I have no desire to go to Antarctica. Walk the streets of Santorini, ride a gondola in Venice, order a beer in a pub in Limerick, wear a beret in Paris, dress like a Harajuku girl in Tokyo
- Do something to serve someone else at least once a day
- Write a knitting pattern that becomes an internet sensation
- Give a wildly extravagant gift to a stranger
- Sleep under a bridge
- Do a perfect cartwheel
- Learn to cook like a grownup. Know my way around a kitchen. Season things with confidence.
- Have a baby
- Practice yoga every day for a whole year
- Get married for keeps
- Stay here
- See the Northern Lights
- Ride on a dog sled
- Go backpacking. Leave the mascara at home (one small step for man, one giant leap…)
- Return to my natural hair color
- See Burning Man. I don’t necessarily want to stay there, I just want to see it.
- Learn Swahili and/or sign language. Practical, no?
- Participate in a flash mob
- Read War and Peace. Seriously.
- Grow something edible
- Stop biting my fingernails once and for all
- Adopt a child
- Become more comfortable being uncomfortable
- Give James Taylor a high five
- Create something new – a new kind of business, a store, an idea, a non-profit- discover a new way to do something that’s been done a thousand times before. Have an original idea, and follow through on it.
- Successfully eliminate high fructose corn syrup from my life. 🙂
- Memorize at least 100 Bible verses
- Sit in a hot spring in Iceland. So what if I got that idea from The Bachelorette?
- See the Waitomo Glow Worms in New Zealand
- Get scuba certified
- Play a team sport, regularly, on an actual team. Be not half bad.
- Open an Etsy store
- Sing an original song at an open mic night
And for good measure, and to feel that deep satisfaction that comes with knowing I’ve actually checked a few things off the list, here are a few of the things on older lists that I’ve managed to do:
- Go on safari in Africa
- Ride a horse in the ocean
- Get a tattoo
- Visit the Globe Theater in London
- See Bill Cosby live
- Swim with dolphins (and stingrays, which was better)
- Climb a waterfall
- Graduate from college
- Learn to knit well enough to make whatever I want
- Have the lead in a play
- Eat a snail
- Participate in a serious race
- Live in a tourist destination city
- Make a decent bucket list. 😉
Alrighty, kids. I showed you mine. Now you show me yours.
June 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
>Y’all know this little blog is my soapbox… just remember that these are only my thoughts. Turns out I don’t really know much. I just like writing to you.
So tonight I’m thinking about words. I’ve had a life long love affair with words, written, spoken, twisted, loaded, crafted and sculpted words. I love particular words (believe, lovely, gazebo, ethereal, remedy, whimsy, kismet) and particular collections of words (the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses, the ravages of generosity added to love, miles to go before I sleep). I commit them to memory, keep them, replay them in my mind, sneak them into conversations. I carry them. Words are sticky- they ride with you, become part of you, and remain.
I can also remember with alarming accuracy so many of the words other people have spoken to me- words that stung, words that healed, words that lifted. I’ve fallen victim to the damning weight of well-intended words from the mouths of people who truly wanted to help me, to offer wisdom, but forgot that our calling is to speak love before correction. I’ve rested in the confidence placed in me by a few well spoken words of encouragement, and been shaped by guidance offered gracefully and with carefully chosen words. There are words that were thrown at me thoughtlessly that still echo in my head whenever I face certain situations, and words that were given to me intentionally that I cling to when I need to be reassured. I can map my life in words.
Words are powerful. I think we owe it to each other to remember that power, to acknowledge the responsibility we have, to choose our words carefully and know when to speak them. In truth, I have very little of value to say – my experiences are limited, and viewed through my own tainted lenses and obnoxious biases, and I am often wrong and I am often afraid. But I have a big God, full of flawless words, who every now and then will give me the opportunity to speak, the words to use, and the confidence to say them. My understanding is, well, lame, but His is perfect. I’m a selfish kid, and what I see when I look at you is often as much about me as it is about you, but what He sees is someone loved. If I can speak with any small bit of that love, if I can be a vessel for words that will encourage, will build, will strengthen, or challenge through love, then I hope I have the emotional wherewithal to say them.
I guess my prayer is that our intention is always first to love. I pray that as we are figuring out how to live in community with each other, to speak into each others lives, we are given the wisdom to differentiate between our opinions and God’s truth, our feelings and His love, our thoughts and His will, and that we choose our words accordingly. If we can focus on loving each other with the sort of love that is patient, kind, doesn’t envy or boast, isn’t proud, doesn’t anger easily, keeps no record of wrongs… I trust that God will follow through on His promise to continue the good work he began, use us to strengthen and sharpen each other, and grow us as we live this thing out.
I absolutely believe we should continue to lift each other up and tell each other the truth, and I hope we remember to do so with an extraordinary amount of care and after having quadruple checked our intentions. I hope I can seek God first in my relationships, and remember to pray first and act second. I’m often pretty lazy about that. There is a load of good advice floating around out there, and some of the best I’ve been given looks like this: Words are powerful. Choose them with your whole heart. When you can, encourage the good instead of pointing out the bad. Seek to build. Love each other.