My friend Maggie has inspired thousands of people to write lists of things they want to accomplish and then to publicly commit to making them happen in this lifetime. I resisted making one for a long time because when I sat down and looked at them my goals were either really, really general (“raise my son to be smart, happy, drug-free, etc.”) or somewhat ill-defined and personal (“be a good person,” “stay healthy”), or just lacking the glamour (“grow out hair”) that a life list ought to have. Especially compared to Maggie’s list, which was full of imaginative, adventurous things like surf a lava flow and make friends with a shark.
Also, I’d read Autobiography of a Yogi, where I learned that in the Hindu tradition, all your wants and desires create new karma, which means that every time you die without crossing everything off your list, you have to come back for extra lifetimes until you can live in a palace / punch Donald Trump in the throat / marry a dolphin. Once you finally shed your last bits of karma (i.e., complete your cosmic life list), you can finally exit this vale of tears and be united with the blissful center of life itself. Or something like that. Look, I’m not a theologian.
But despite my vague existential concerns, I’d seen first-hand how powerful declaring your intentions can be, and one of the things it can be is fun.
So in order to avoid adding too many extra spins on the wheel of life and death, I’ve put together a conservative list of achievable-in-this-lifetime goals. Some of these may look kind of boring to you, but they’re still important to me. And if you see anything on this list that looks familiar, I may have borrowed it from your list. Thank you! You have good ideas.
1. Go to Japan and see the cherry blossoms in Kyoto and eat sushi in Tokyo.
2. Read a book a week for a year. Twelve of those books should be poetry. (I can already tell this needs to be modified into “find the time to read a little every day.”)
3. Re-learn how to play pinochle.
Configure a space so that it it’s flexible enough to let me practice yoga at home
Practice yoga every day, even if it’s just a few suryanamaskars and a little meditation
6. Learn to drop back and come up to standing from a back bend.
Buy a new sketchbook. Use it, and don’t be afraid of paint or brush pens.
Live in a house with a yard where I can plant a kitchen garden and compost and let my dog run around.
9. Set up a basketball hoop in the driveway, yard, or wherever.
Pay off the credit cards.
11. Publish my first novel and have it do so well that I can quit my job at the library and then sign up as a volunteer at the library. (Basically, I want to keep my job for no pay while I write another novel, and then sell it and write another one, and another one after that.)
12. Figure out how my mom made this sweater and make another one for myself.
13. Find a way to do something really fun with my drawing. Cards, prints, a cartoon strip — something. T-shirts?
Decorate the bedroom.
15. Do something drastically better with our front yard. It’s a rental so maybe it’s not our responsibility, but it looks like hell and it’s not a priority for our landlord so I just want a cheap way to make it look not like hell.
16. Pay off my car loan.
17. Write five letters of thanks to people whose work or lives have inspired me.
18. Be a better friend.
19. Get the podcast with Alice up and running once a week. Also, think of a really good name for it.
20. Quit making other people responsible for my emotional needs and well-being.
21. Get my flute fixed so I can play it again.
22. Go to Australia and gently hug a koala, a wombat, and a quokka.
Go on a nice yoga retreat.
24. Finish tagging all my old posts.
Finish the first draft of my book by September 30, 2013.
26. Finish all the sketches I owe people for donating to the Red Cross and Charity Water last year.
Start posting a daily photo again.
28. Finish knitting Jack’s new sweater.
29. Finish the second draft of my book by September 30, 2014.