Monday, July 23, 2012

Not on my List

You've seen them. You've done them. You've made them. You've bought books that tell you about them.

100 places to go before you die.
100 books to read before you die.
100 movies to watch before you die.
100 foods to eat before you die.
100 wines. 100 beaches.
100 Non Star and Star Bellied Sneeches.
100 trails. 100 snails.
100 clubs. 100 bars.
100 places to be seen with stars upon thars.

Seriously, at first it was fun but now it feels like a giant nag.  So if I've checked them off it's okay to kick the bucket? I'll have squeezed out of the world my allotted pound of fun and fed my brain its prescribed regimen of intellectual vitamins?  I'll have Phineas and Ferbed my life sufficiently to say I carpe diemed? 

Carpe Diem doesn't mean a list, it means living.

You know what?

The greatest books are not the ones that please your English professor.  They're the ones that move you, that speak to something you didn't know you were holding in your heart and that needed to be understood. 

The greatest foods are not the ones recommended by the Food Network.  The greatest foods are the ones that contain a touch of one's past.  Food Network is not going to think sandy hot dogs burned over a bonfire at Port Bolivar rock, but to me, they evoke a touch of perfection that isn't found elsewhere.  Same goes for corn tamales with chili, cherry Popsicles in a hammock and peach cobbler from the French Quarter, (a restaurant that went out of business 20 years ago).  I can't make a one of these the way I remember (maybe the  burnt hot dogs), but these things rank on the best list, on my list because I've done them in the course of not checking off things until I die, but in the process of enjoying the business of living. 

But curiosity got the best of me and I did check off all those lists. Movies (35), Books (41), Places (29).  That's what started all of this.  The thing is, most of the non checked books, I'd like to read and most of the places, I'd like to go but other things have taken priority (as they should).
My travels have been mostly stateside, but I did have one venture to the old country and thus checked off The Cathedral of Notre Dame in France.  But the list doesn't tell the story that I went up the stairs that said "Do not cross" and sat on the roof of a spire and had a fellow disobedient tourist snap my picture of me as a Gargoyle. Being to the Swiss Alps doesn't tell the story of being offered a tour by a stoner of the Rhine fall (I refused), or going up to the top of a mountain in Lucern with a Kindergarten class that was very interested in being photographed with a Texan. I felt like an exotic creature being shown off at the zoo.  

There were lots of "Places to have been" that were in New York City, but the Brooklyn Bridge wasn't one of them.  Sitting on the Brooklyn Bridge for the "Mother of all Parades" --I went with my dinner and sat at 6:30 so that I had the spot right in the middle of the bridge, a perfect vantage point for the fireworks on the river.  It wasn't until after the last firework faded that I recognized, "You know Sher, being alone in New York after 12:30 in the evening with a subway ride and six block walk to make followed by work the next morning is probably one of your dumber things to have done."

To me, the greatest place in the world is not on the 100 places to see before you die because the list is more 100 places it's awesome to be and say you've been than places that simply speak to your heart.  Millions go and see the Mona Lisa. Millions go to the Sears Tower.  What one feels or thinks when seeing a great painting or being at a great place or tasting a wonderful food is decidedly idiosyncratic.  Others will go to those places and have different physical epiphanies from being on top of the Eiffel Tower or walking the Vegas strip. The stories of those 100 places is what makes them great places to go.  But those stories aren't conveyed by where you've been.  They're conveyed by you in the course of telling the why you've been or the what you felt when you read  this book.  

So now it is 10:30 am on a Monday and I'm going to take most if not all of my kids to a park, then for burgers to celebrate my son's birthday, and then the littles will be given bath and bedtime stories, most likely "10 Minutes 'Til Bedtime" (a current favorite), or Dr. Seuss's "The Sneeches"(The most requested lately) or "Pinkalicious" (another popular choice).  The boys will go see Spiderman.  None of these places or foods or movies are on the 100 list, but they're honestly, the best places to be today, while I'm living, for me. 

Because places are places
and food is food
books and movies,
They're all good. 

100 things to accomplish,
while fun and true
that's way too limiting.
Way too few
and too many if that's all you do.

So go outside
If you like, read a book.
With the people you love, go thrive
For it isn't the places or things or foods that you eat before you die.

It's the people you love that makes life alive.


Unknown said...

oh I love the last part the best.. you are right on the money

Rose Godfrey said...

And to those lists of things you absolutely should not miss, I'd like to add
taking a casserole to a friend when she's sick
buying new tires for a family in need
helping out at church in whatever capacity you are capable of helping
building something with your own hands
holding a puking child and realizing you love her enough not to let go
watching a new life hatch or be born
sharing the wonder of a night sky with a child

and the list goes on.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!