We all have hopes and dreams. From whimsical yet often unrealised New Years Resolutions such as quitting smoking or taking up a hobby, to life long ambitions like planning a trip of a life time to a far away destination, or accomplishing a goal like swimming with dolphins or climbing a big mountain.
Everyone has something they want to achieve, no matter how big or small, but how many of your hopes, dreams and ambitions are fated to linger at the bottom of your to-do list, never fulfilled?
Give it some thought and you’ll probably find your list is longer than expected.
I know mine is. But why?
Because Mr Real Life is a sly chap.
He has a knack for getting in the way of your plans.
Want to learn how to ride a horse? Sure!
Uh-oh, Mr Real Life throws unexpected bills at you.
Fancy learning a new language? Do I ever!
Um, but not right now because Mr Real Life is about to fill your free time with a vast list of things you can’t avoid.
Mr Real Life isn’t nasty on purpose. He’s simply an inevitable and uncompromising jerk.
An efficient fun sponge you could say.
Recently I wrote about 50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾, and whilst it was fun to do it didn’t reflect any of my future hopes, dreams and ambitions, otherwise known as a Bucket List. Personally I think that’s a bit of a morbid moniker. Seems a little too stressful:
“I have to do these things before I buy the farm because time’s running out!”
It serves as a reminder that we don’t have much time to settle down and get used to life before we run out of it. Despite the dark undertones I recently questioned if I could write a Bucket List (I know, such a bleurgh title) that made sense. One that was realistic, because I don’t see the point on wishing to travel to the Moon if I can’t actually achieve it.
I added “Write a Bucket List” to my Bucket List!
Not that I actually wrote one. I thought about it now and then. In the car, whilst brushing my teeth or gazing at the TV. Those few moments where your brain seems to leave the body to float around for a bit before Mr Real Life slaps you with a fist full of reality.
Oddly enough it was Mr Real Life who brought me back to the subject of a Bucket List. I was recently contacted by Emma Welsby from moneysupermarket.com, who had read my 50 Things… post and invited me to write on the subject of a Bucket List for a competition they were running.
Em, as she signed off her email, said the competition was about hearing what was on people’s Bucket Lists and what prevents them from doing it.
The way I see it there are 4 things on a Hinder List that prevent people from fulfilling stuff on a Bucket List:
- Mr Real Life.
The first 2 are understandable if not entirely reasonable excuses. You can add plenty to a Bucket List that won’t take up vast sums of money and time – learn something new, run a marathon, lose a few pounds, fly a power kite on the beach (I’m sure there are clubs where you can try it out, it’s ace fun by the way!) raise money for a charity, grow your own veg, build something… well you get the idea. You just need to be creative and realistic with what time and money constraints you have.
As for the 3rd, well, I’m pretty sure we’ve all been slouched in front of the goggle box, not really watching the chewing gum for the eyes junk, wondering if you should get up and do something worthwhile.
Any second your muscles will connect with the brain and react with that sudden urge TO DO…
…any second, just watch…
…just need that little nudge…
Ooh Friends has just started.
…seen that episode before…seen em all loads of times…so I should really get moving…
Haha! It’s that one where Joey does something funny.
…maybe watch just this one episode…then get on with that thing…
Oh cool, the TV guide says it’s a 2 Parter.
…hmmm, what was the thing again?
Man, Chandler is so funny.
Roll opening credits. Urge TO DO vanishes.
As for Mr Real Life, like I said before he’s not a bad fella, but holy-crap-on-a-cracker he’s annoying.
Hey, Mr Real Life, take a chill pill man!
Back home from work this afternoon I decided to lock that pesky chap in a box for a few hours. The Bucket List had been playing on my mind for a few days. As I hadn’t posted anything for a while I was feeling itchy. The urge to splurge words prompted me to sit and crank out my own Bucket List.
Still not happy with that label.
I stopped after I’d typed: “We all have hopes and dreams.”
What sort of Bucket List did I want?
A dazzling, money no object, skies the limit, ain’t no mountain high enough glitter and sparkly goodness list? Or perhaps one that matched my financial situation, down to Earth, easy to achieve, no nonsense, does what it says on the tin stuff?
And if I wanted this post to be worthy of a competition for a company centred around getting value for money, didn’t it need to reflect that ethos?
Conundrums are a problem.
So I checked Facebook for a while.
Watched a great speech on TEDTalks by Lisa Bu on the subject of how books can open your mind.
And because of my love of writing it nudged me back to the Bucket List. I figured why have one list and limit myself? With two I could reach for the stars whilst staying grounded. Awesome sauce. So let’s do this in reverse order, a countdown to my number 1 thing on my Bucket Lists.
I’m not sure if these count at extravagant or not. Some cost time, others money, to me they seem extravagant.
My Extravagant Bucket List
5. Fly on Virgin Galactic.
Sure it’s £164,000 for a flight that’s over before you know it. For me that’s an ultimate experience of a life time. A unique experience that has the ability to shape the way you view the world and everyone on it. It has to be a purely positive moment, a high peak in your life that can define you in every way.
4. Live in a sustainable Eco-Home.
I love Grand Designs on TV, especially the episodes where they build eco-homes. I sometimes dream of being able to design my own home that has virtually no negative impact on the environment. One that is sustainable without input from the grid for things like power, water, heat and where possible food.
I’ve read a lot about people who disconnect themselves from the grid and live a considerably more peaceful life. The ideal seriously appeals to me, one where you’re ultimately responsible for your own home and not reliant on some faceless entity burning fossil fuels just so you can have gas central heating and pre-packed cold meats at low-low prices.
3. Travel across Australia.
I wouldn’t want the standard tourist run. I’d want to spend quality time there, exploring, without rushing to the next hotel, rest stop, over night stay etc. The scenery I’ve seen in photos and videos are more than stunning, the vast space alone is big enough to be lodged in your memory for a life time.
Saving my pennies for that kind of trip, no 3 week effort, a good year travelling around, is going to take time, but one day I want to be able to say with a far off look in my eye: “Yup, Went there once. Worthy of sticking on any Bucket List.”
2. Start and finish a degree.
This is limited by funds and time. I’ll never stop being fascinated by learning, and now I’m older and wiser I’d find it a fabulous challenge to get stuck into, and beats any materialistic stuff. It’s about the ability to learn and stretch my noggin, to achieve what I regret not having attempted when I was younger.
1. Make a big and positive impact on the world.
I recently heard that George Lucas was planning to donate a huge sum from the sale of Lucas Arts to charity or schools or something. Billions of dollars. Similar to Bill Gates who I remember donating some of his cash to worthy causes. I’d like to do that.
A recent Euro Millions Lottery win was something like £157 Million! That’s an insane amount of cash. I wouldn’t have a hope of even trying to spend all that. I’d want to put it to good use. Sure, donating to charity is a good way to go, and even out the karma balance a bit. £10 million to Cancer or Alzheimer’s is a nice idea.
But that kind of faceless handout wouldn’t connect me with the purpose of the charity. I’d feel good, don’t get me wrong, but in addition to that I’d like to make a difference to people I can see around me. Like homeless people I see in local towns. They might not want or need a flashy car or other jazzy junk, but a hot meal, bath, warm place to stay, person to talk to…that’s more like it.
I know it sounds bad: “Oh man, I’d only help out if I had loads of cash and time, and since I don’t have either then it ain’t going to happen.” It’s not like that. I once bought fish and chips for a homeless guy selling the Big Issue fish on a cold and wet afternoon. The smile on his face was worth making that connection! And that’s what I enjoy.
My Budget Bucket List
I have a few more items on this list because I know they’re not beyond my limits.
10. Be better at 40 than I was at 20.
So I’ve lost weight. Over 8 stone. It’s good. I’m happy about that. My aim is to be in better shape, eating healthier, stronger, fitter, happier, more confident, wiser, faster, better…than I was when I was 20.
That’s not hard to achieve as I was a bit of a turd at that age. A lazy, arrogant chubster with no idea what I was doing, where I was going or how I was I going to get there. I know I’m a better person now, I need to concentrate on my health more. I’ll get there, that’s a given.
9. Get a cover-up tattoo.
I had a tattoo when I was 18. I was young and stupid. Yeah, rock n roll for ever man! I was all bangles, long hair, party every night total douche bag. I don’t regret having a tattoo, just that particular design. Every now and then I pop to see a tattoo artist guy I know, we chat, throw around ideas and I leave still unsure what design I want.
At one point I fancied something elemental. Now I like the idea of a bright coloured Aboriginal design, something rich and bold to match my personality, I hope! Problem is that it’ll cost around £600 for the time it’ll take to ink it on my body. Pennies make pounds, right?
8. Own an Oculus Rift.
Okay, bit of a mad one. I like video games. For years I’ve been dreaming of virtual reality yet sadly it’s never really taken off. Until now! This new device is pretty damn cool. You strap it to your head and immerse yourself in the video game. The footage of people using this thing on YouTube is amazing and I can’t wait to try one out when they finally go on sale.
No idea how much they cost but it can’t be that much. I love the idea of being that immersed in a video game after years watching it on a 2D screen.
7. Take my Dad to see U2 live.
I’ve been a fan of U2 ever since I was about 9 or 10 maybe. Me, my Dad and my Sister drove to Cornwall one summer to visit Uncle Bill. My Dad played Rattle And Hum all the way there. After that Achtung Baby roared into my ear drums.
They have a sound that reverberates inside my head with such harmony it’s like someone playing my thoughts and emotions back to me. I’ve only watched them on TV or online and their live shows look stunning. To see them live would be a dream come true, and I’m pretty sure my Dad wouldn’t turn down the chance either.
6. See a tornado up close.
Extreme weather is both scary and fascinating. It would be a huge thrill to accompany a storm chaser in America’s Tornado Alley for a few weeks, getting up close and personal with the raw power of nature. The thought of being both frightened and elated at the same time is skin tingly good.
5. Have an archery lesson & own a bow (if I’m any good at it that is!)
I spent a week at an outdoor pursuits place when I was 11, canoeing, orienteering, tenting (not sure that’s a thing, but we had to put our own tent up!) and archery.
Our memories are susceptible to misinterpretation, often viewed through rose-tinted nostalgic spectacles the more time pushes us from the memory. However, I firmly believe I discovered I had a knack for archery back then.
Recently, whilst researching for a novel, I rediscovered my interest in archery, although limited to the internet thus far. I contacted an archery supplier who held training sessions, told them of my reasons for getting in touch, that I was interested in a training session and keen to ask them questions about archery to lend authenticity to my writing.
Sadly they never replied and although I haven’t lost interest in archery I have yet to find anyone I can go and see who can give me a lesson and chat to about the subject.
I’m going to mark that one down as #2 Time and #3 Laziness on the Hinder List.
4. Kill the Pain Demons in my hip.
This isn’t Number 1 because I know it’ll happen sooner or later. I’ve posted about my hip ouchie’s a few times before, Zombies Don’t Write! being my last post on that subject. My physiotherapist seems upbeat on my situation and how my hips are showing signs of improvement, it’s all about muscle strength (or lack of it in my case) in the hip and bottom region.
There are days when every step causes the most intense pain, and others where it eases off a little but one slight twist and the Pain Demon growls in delight.
Losing a lot of weight has been very rewarding, yet oddly distressing at the same time. I don’t get out of breath or sweaty by walking up stairs. I have more energy and stamina and I dare say my life expectancy has risen as a result. My muscles used to be masked by fatty grossness, yet now they’re prominent.
I can see that knobbly bit of bone on my wrist now. Sure that wasn’t there before. I can feel tendons in my legs, how gross is that? My face has shape to it, and sometimes the person in the mirror doesn’t look how I remember. Lots of clothes don’t fit me now.
I’m happy and I know I’ll never go back to being large and cumbersome. I just wish the trade-off didn’t mean I inherited two nasty Pain Demons in my hips because I didn’t exercise enough to strengthen those important muscles that supported my body when it was big, but wilted when they were no longer needed.
This is about time and effort. I have time and I’m putting in the effort. I guess I’m just impatient. Ah well, I’ve waited long enough to lose the weight, the least I can do is stick with it to see the Pain Demons die.
3. Finish my novel.
It has taken about 18 months to get my novel, The Range, to a sixth draft and I suspect it won’t be the last. I’ve left it alone to simmer for a few months now so my beta readers can give me feedback. I have a follow-up planned with 40,000 words already banked, and have spent some time mapping out the plot instead of pantsing it like I did with The Range.
As for the third in the series, the basic plot is there but with only rough notes and ideas. I’ve been writing since I was very young. It’s my one true passion in life. The Range isn’t the first novel I’ve written. There were two others before that. I call them Garbage 1 and Garbage 2. Learning curves you could say. I’ve also got a whole stack of short stories, novellas and other bits of fiction hanging about.
Whilst it felt amazing to tap out those last words of The Range I knew then it wasn’t over. The editing and polishing stage had to come, and I welcomed the chance to refine and tweak my work. Now my hopes are about making it complete, easing out the dross from the good stuff and feeling good about having a finished project.
2. Publish my novel.
I’d day-dream about finding a publisher who’d take on my novel. Hero worship comes in many forms, from TV celebrities and musicians to Hollywood actors, historical figures and world leaders. I admired people who were good enough to have a book on a shelf in Waterstones. A publisher thought what the author had penned was good enough to be shared with everyone.
For years I wanted to see my novel on a book shop shelf. I longed to stand next to someone who slid it off the shelf and read the blurb on the back cover. I wanted to feel pride by seeing someone who wanted to read my story.
I still do. But times change and now I see the positives in publishing via Amazon Kindle or Smashwords for example. I’ve read enough to know there are plenty of pitfalls in the world of fiction writing and self-publishing, and how some say amateur writers have given eBooks a bad name – poor editing, bad grammar, lazy cover design, naff layout and of course, bad writing.
I’ve read some dreadful free or low-cost eBooks, yet there are amazing gems to be found if you’re patient. Even now I’m undecided which path to take, traditional or self-publish. The lure of self-publishing is hard to resist. I like the idea of being in control of my work, not necessarily from a financial point of view, but being able to respond to readers, or fans if I get any, and have that direct connection with them.
Some critics say amateur writers use self-publishing as the easy route to short-term gratification, and that eBooks lists are quickly becoming the slush pile to the real gems that shine. I’m not so sure. You can learn the skills and tools needed to be a writer but you can’t learn talent. You either have it or you don’t. I think I have talent. I still have a lot to learn but every day something new goes into the toolbox, and that pleases me.
One day soon The Range will be sent out into the world.
That will be a proud day to be sure.
1. To make a difference to those close to me.
You know the question: “What would you do if you won the lottery?” All the usual stuff applies – holidays, villas, cars, big home, lovely stuff and so on. Yeah, that’s kinda nice, though it has to get boring at some point. I much prefer the idea of making sure the family are well cared for.
Not spoilt. It’s more about adding some security by reducing the struggle. I’d remove any mortgage issues for my sister for example and provide her kids with funds to put them through university. It’s that kind of security I’d want to provide, not lavish objects that really don’t mean anything in the long run.
Morbid I know, but on my death bed every material object bought throughout my life would be insanely unimportant when compared to knowing I’d led a morally just life, one of compassion, love, charity and kindness.
I’d want to be remembered for my sense of humour, not my wealth if I had any. I’d want to close my eyes for the last time and be content that those whom I love were safe and happy in every sense of the word.
I’d like the words on my grave stone to read something like: “Dave Farmer – Always smiling. Always laughing. Always shining.”
Or how about one of my favourite sayings: “Dave Farmer – One day he’ll look back on this and laugh. HAHAHA!”
Reckon that would look pretty cool among the other graves of “Sadly missed” or “Loving blah blah.” I hope that when someone’s visiting their departed loved ones, tears in their eyes, sadness in their hearts, they’ll glance in my direction, read those words and maybe…just maybe I’ll still be able to make people smile!
That’s it! I’ve figured out a better way of saying Bucket List.
Things I hope to achieve, things to aim for and look forward to instead of feeling pushed toward a sense of regret if I don’t accomplish the full list before I leap into the unknown. A Hope List implies a positive point of view.
On that subject I’ll leave you with a quote from Lisa Bu from the TEDTalks Conference I mentioned earlier. This sums up my thoughts on hopes and dreams because even when they go unfulfilled there’s always some remnant to drive you toward something else, something new you may never have found if not for that one broken dream.
I have come to believe that coming true is not the only purpose of a dream. Its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from. Even a shattered dream can do that for you.
– Lisa Bu
Pay it forward.
That’s the over-riding ethos that guides my Hope list.
And to that end I’d like to invite 3 fellow bloggers to think about what they’d put on their
Bucket Hope List. I’m sure they’re more than capable of rising to the challenge!
Merry Farmer – Historical romance writer & excellent blogger – Merryfarmer.net
Joss Burnel, The Crowing Crone – She who truly walks in beauty – Crowingcrone.com
Piglet in Portugal, Expat blogger with humorous every day tales of life & travel in Portugal – Pigletinportugal.com
I thank you, dear blog reader, for sticking with me through my list of dreams. And I leave you with a question.