I have been in a few bookclubs over the years. For different reasons, they have fizzled out. The group dynamics didn't work out anymore, no one made time for the group, or people stopped reading the books. After one bookgroup broke up, a small group of us were disappointed and still wanted to get together so we decided to start the Whatever Club. The idea was similar to a bookgroup - we decided to get together each month and each month would have a host. But, instead of reading books, the host would pick "whatever" they wanted to do.
It was a blast! One month we had a wine tasting, another month we all came in our pj's and watched a chick flick (and passed around the kleenex), another time we tried a new restaurant, and then one month we decided to go to the movie The Bucket List and then get together for dinner afterwards to share our own personal bucket lists. My friend Margaret hosted that month and she had little notebooks made up with the tagline "My Bucket List". Underneath that it said "The Ten Things I Want to Do in This World During My Life Are:" and then we all filled in our own list.
Years ago I travled to India for work with a small group and at dinner one night the subject of Life Lists came up. It seemed that everyone had one but me. Not a mental one or a physical one. Every now and again following that, I would make a mental note to myself of things I wanted to add to my list. When this opportunity came up again to really think about what was on my life list, I immediately had a few thoughts but then struggled to come up with ten. As we began to share our lists that night, we each found ourselves saying "Oh that's good! I'm going to add that to my list!" It felt a little like you were cheating though...like you should come up with your list all on your own. I have kept that notebook that Margaret made and often refer to the list and add to it, check things off, and delete items. So far I have taken a summer off to spend with my kids (I never thought that would be possible), I've painted a frame worthy picture, and although I didn't attend a mass with the Pope, I did get to see the Pope in person, which is good enough for me. I have also since crossed off sky diving and taking a ride in a hot air balloon. A few weeks ago I heard a story on the news of a girl that went bungee jumping and the rope broke. Amazingly she is alive but I decided that the risk isn't worth it to me. I don't want to plummet to earth trying to get my parachute open or while trying to stay afloat in a giant balloon. I'm good. But I do still want to swim with dolphins, travel to Australia, go on a safari in Africa, and zip line through the rain forest.
Last weekend, the kids and I had an opportunity to do something that, although was not on my bucket list, was on my kids list. Each year during Martin Luther King weekend, Tim's parents take their 3 kids and their families away skiing at Bretton Woods. And each year, the kids watch the dog sled rides go by and ask if they can do it some year. For Christmas this year, we gave them a gift certificate to finally go on a sled dog ride and I joined them. It was a life list worthy experience for several reasons.
It was an educational ride. We were introduced to each of the 8 dogs by name and told what their job was. The dogs in the back, who were brothers, had the job of steering the sled. And like true brothers, they spend the entire time wrestling and knocking into one another. The dogs in the front, were responsible for steering the pack. The dogs behind them were the co-captains who helped to steer the pack. And the dogs in the middle were the powerhouse dogs. Once that was all clear, we got into the sled, me first, then Jack, and then Mimi...all sitting up but laying back on one another. We had a big blanket tucked around us and then the excitement began! Apparently, these dogs just love to pull the sled. They love the cold weather and this is what they live for. As they were getting hooked up, all the other dogs at the station started barking like mad. They were excited for the group that was going out and they also wanted to go out themselves. And when I say they were barking like mad, I mean, it was deafening. When the musher gave the sign to pull out, we took off like a rocket!
It was very much like a roller coaster ride on snow - up and down hills, around turns, and across fields. About half way into the ride, Chase our musher stopped and asked the kids if they wanted to drive the sled. I thought they were going to pass out from pure excitement. Mimi went first...she climbed in front of Chase and he gave her some direction. Then he told her to ask the dogs if they were ready. Oh, they were ready all right....they were prancing like they were about to wet their pants. Then she said "Hike! Hike!" and they took off like bats out of you know where. She had a great time and then crawled back into the sled with me while Jack took the reins.
This was one of those moments as a parent that I have not experienced yet. A moment where you see your child totally in their glory, really experiencing a key moment in their life, a moment of pure joy. When I looked up at him, he had this smile on his face that I have never seen before. He was completely unaware that I was watching him because he was so absorbed in the moment. His whole face was lit up, his cheeks were apple red from the cold, and he had this smile of pure bliss on his face. It's a look I won't ever forget. As a parent you hope your child's life is filled with many of those moments, although knowing from experience, that when they do happen for you, they aren't commonplace.
This made the dog sled ride well worth more than the monetary amount I paid. When I was retelling the story to Tim and my mother in-law later, I got choked up. It meant a lot to me to see him enjoying that moment so much. It was how you should look after you cross off something on your life list.
What's on your life list?