Friday, August 31, 2007

A Little List of Dreams

from Jacqueline

Yesterday, while getting ready to go out and ride my horse, I put my back out putting on my riding breeches. One leg in, then – I am bent over and cannot stand up. At times like these, there is a quandary. Do I risk further injury by trying to take off the one leg of the riding attire that is on my body, or do I try to stand up? Do I hop to the freezer to pull out an ice pack, or hop to the bedroom and try to get on the bed, one leg in my breeches and all? Frankly, I don’t remember what I did, I just know it hurt. Now, here’s the irony in all of this. Before leaving my desk to get ready to go out to see the horse, I was reading an article in the New York Times (I kid you not, this is what happened) regarding the fact that women in the 45-55 age range were generally faster, stronger athletes than women in their early twenties. Yaaay!! I thought, as I leapt up from the desk in a fit of early morning athletic joyfulness, and ran to the bathroom, where I had thrown my riding breeches when I came back from the barn the day before, and ... there you go. Middle aged athlete with a dodgy back.

However, the continuing adventures of my spinal cord was not going to be the main thrust of this post today. I was going to talk about lists. Of course, top of my list at the moment is an appointment with my chiropractor (non-invasive technique, none of that snapping and cracking).

I’ve had a list for some years, I revise it at the beginning of each year. My list comprises all the things I would like to accomplish, see and do before I quit this mortal coil. Part of it is this sense of trying to fit in as much as I can, though I do not feel as if I have to rush it all, which for some reason I did in my early twenties. And part is a sense of adventure, doing things that, when I was growing up, I never thought I’d be able or have the opportunity to do. I came from a small town where a steady job in a local typing pool or the sausage factory was all that was on the horizon. My parents were so worried that I my horizons might be stunted by this limited range, that they would drive me past the local laundry once a week, saying, “There, that’s where you’ll end up if you don’t work hard at school.” I would sit in the back of the car and say (really – I can’t believe they didn’t stop the car and chuck me out), “If I have anything to do with that laundry, it will be because I own the place.” I was fourteen at the time, with a bit too much “lip” even if I say so myself.

Back to the list. While reading the New York Times (yet again), I came across an article pointing to the fact that list-making is quite the thing at the moment, with researchers putting it down to our stress-laden, got-to-do-it-all lives. Not sure I completely agree with that, but I will add that, when my coaching practice was in full swing, one of the things I asked my clients to do was to list their dreams, their ambitions, and those things that should happen in their lifetime to give them the sense of a life well-lived. I think for most of us it’s quite simple: To have family and friends that we love and care for, to have a sense of worth in our work, our daily round, and to have some things to look forward to and back upon. There are a million quotes out there attesting to some variant of this little list. But beyond that, there are those things we’ve heard about, read about, or that a friend’s done, that we would really like to do. The things that grab our imagination. Here’s a quick run-through of some of mine:

I want to go on a riding safari in Kenya – none of this Land Rover lark, I want to be on horseback, staying at lodges, preferably ones that have already been swept of poisonous snakes. Cannot abide snakes.

I want to visit the baby elephant orphanage run by Dame Daphne Sheldrick in Kenya – I adore elephants.

I want to go hiking in New Zealand – thank heavens I won’t be able to afford such a venture until long after the back is in full working order again.

I want to take my parents on an Atlantic crossing on the QM2

I would like to be a good enough rider to compete at the higher levels of dressage. Back permitting.

I have loads of book ideas I want to explore, fiction and non-fiction. Want to do them all.

I would like to go to Antarctica – the fact that I cannot abide the cold could be a bit of an issue here, but I am assured that modern severe weather garb will take care of that for me.

Bhutan, I want to go to Bhutan.

And Montana, and Peru.

And most important, there is a whole list of personal wishes, to do with those I care for most and how we spend our time in this world with each other, and that list has to do with love, with respect, with having good times, and with the personal album of memories we carry with us from day to day, with even those ordinary things done together that we cherish.

So, go on, inspire us all – what’s on your list? And I bet as soon as I read it, I will want to add it to mine.

(PS Just read through this list of "I wants" and am almost embarrassed by it. Reminds me of when I was a kid, telling my mother I "wanted" something. Usually something we could never afford. Her response would be, "Now you know what it is to want - call it an experience!")

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  1. I want to take a tour of Russia and Eastern Europe.

    Jim Born

  2. I want to lay on a beach somewhere for as long as it takes to get bored.

    Great post Our J. Loved the pictures.

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  4. I want to live in Paris, with no responsibilities, except to write. There's a little pensione that I recall from my last visit, years ago--I wonder if it's still there. I want to wander down a boulevard parisien, have a breakfast of brioche and cafe au lait before wandering back to my room to type and conjure stories and type and type, overlooking the Seine. Ah...heaven!

  5. from Jacqueline

    Oh, my, what a great list! James, one of my friends just did your dream - and not in any posh way, but by rail and bus. She loved it! Patty - any beach, anywhere sounds good to me. And Kathryn, I think every writer has your dream tucked away somewhere in their list - but I can smell the coffee and brioche from here. Oh, gosh, anyone buying a lottery ticket this weekend?

  6. Yes. Paris. I want to spend every minute possible hanging out on the Left Bank.

    To read as much as I want would be wonderful.

    I'd like to spend more time in New York, and Amsterdam.

    I'd like to visit New Zealand, and Denmark, and Iceland.

    And yeah, I bought a lottery ticket ;-)

  7. from Jacqueline

    Heck, I forgot Iceland - always wanted to go there, it's been on my list for a while. And Rae, how about a share system on that lottery ticket?????

  8. I want to see places I've never seen before, hear music I've never heard before and dance with women I've never met before.

  9. And there, in just a few lines, you've summed up your list - and in a very Hemingway sounding fashion, I might add! (Though if that was the case, you would have added something along the lines of: "Drink every drink I've never drunk before, in all the bars I've never been.") Places, music and dancing - sounds like a plan to me.

  10. I want to see Bald Eagles in the wild and go to that spot off the coast of Mexico where you can go out in a small boat and pet the whales.

    Tom, T.O.

  11. Thanks, Tom - what a lovely image to hold to the heart. There's something about both eagles and dolphins that really takes hold of the imagination.

  12. Swim with the dolphins.

    Read and paint on a beach somewhere, and contemplate the universe whilst watching the replay of sunrise/sunset, rolling waves and drifting clouds. With a notepad beside me for revelations. :-D

    Spend a month or so driving or hiking around England and Britain with notepad in one hand and paint box in the other, whilst inhaling the details into spirit and soul.

    Spend a night or so under the stars in the Australian Outback - where the 'river of stars' is so intense that you could almost reach out and touch it. Build a bonfire and watch embers rise to meet them.

    Write a mystery novel that I'm happy with. Illustrate my Dragon picture books and get them published. Break the bonds of fear of my creativity, and soar.

    I think I'm a bit jetlagged...