My understanding of a bucket list is that it is a list of things to do before you die and comes from the term”kicked the bucket.” So by that definition, surely the logical #1 on the list should be: (1) Don’t die.
This is a surprisingly fascinating exercise. I thought I would rattle off the things that have long been important to me, places I want to see for the first time or again, people I want to see perform for the first time or again, skills I would like to gain or use after a long hiatus etc.
But I find that my list has changed completely, almost without me noticing. And it has to do with a change in my circumstances. I wasn’t unhappy in Auckland, but my desires all revolved around people and places elsewhere. I wanted to see Scotland, visit Washington D.C. again, visit New York again, see Las Vegas, visit Rome again. And I wanted to see Placido Domingo in an opera again, see Michael Ball as Sweeney Todd, hear people like Bryn Terfel and John Owen Jones etc. See more West End theatre.
Now I go to Auckland overnight and I feel homesick for my little Cambridge house. It still thrills me when I wake up and know that I live here. I don’t want to fly any more and go through the hassle of airports. I can put on Cds, DvDs, itunes to hear people I love to listen to and listen in the comfort of my own home. I had a nasty throat infection in July and it took until September to get any kind of singing voice. I have the low notes and can sing for a while in the middle, but the ‘tops’ are gone, maybe forever. Anything slightly high and the voice is simply not there.
I love cooking and there are dishes I want to master. Things I want to taste and see if I like them. I will admit that I don’t have very adventurous taste buds and I’m not good with spicy food or highly flavoured ingredients. I love tomato soup and sauce, I don’t like raw tomatoes, I love pumpkin soup, don’t like cooked pumpkin. Number #2 on my list would be, expand my food likes and learn to cook more exotic dishes. How hard can Thai curry be? I already do a mean satay chicken and Pad Thai. And I like freestyle cooking, inventing dishes as I go. Most of the time they are nice, sometimes they are spectacular and sometimes the cat walks away with her nose in the air. As long as you accept that they won’t be great every time, it’s fun.
I love writing and the ebooks are great fun. I love that I can write something and people will read it. I spent seven years writing “The Secret Keeper” and on some days I sell four copies on Amazon. “Our Father’s War” has had 204 downloads from Smashwords, that’s far more people reading his words than he would ever have dreamed possible. And 75 people have downloaded my short stories “Stirred Not Shaken” from Smashwords. Wow! I am hoping that over time I will get more reviews and ratings and my readership will grow. All this takes is time at the computer. How lucky am I?
And I love spending time with the kids in my family and with Lucas. I am amused by the things they say and reasoning they apply to situations. I love their logic and the simple, unprejudiced way they approach life and other people. I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to spend time with them.
And I love the fact that at 88 my Mum is still funny and understanding and that we still sometimes laugh till we cry. I make ‘Welsh dessert’ with red and green jelly and chocolate mousse and (homemade) apple pie icecream (all sugar-free I add) and stick tiny Welsh flags in it and serve it to her and she eats it all up. In fact she eats whatever I put in front of her. And she enjoys it. And she knits squares for the Big Blanket Project and she talks to Chloe and calls her back when she ventures over the road. And she is so thrilled about Dad’s book. I am very fortunate to have such an amazing woman in my daily life.
And I love the new creative projects in my life. I made a whole dinosaur world out of paper mache. Hills and valleys and a river and a lake. And I have knitted so many squares my eyes have changed shape. I have painted kids’ faces, written and illustrated a personalised kid’s book for one little boy, played rugby on the lawn, made up many dinosaur stories and made plastic orcas eat plastic dolphins.
So I come to the conclusion that my old list is kicked into touch and my desires are more simple and more easily obtained. I am content with my life. My blood pressure is the best it has ever been, because I have left the stressful life behind. I live in the ‘now’ and I am happy to be here. I understand why I once heard a very wise man answer the question, “what should I wish for?’ with “contentment.”