“The Greeks didn’t write obituaries when someone died…they just asked one question….”Did he have passion?”  From the Movie Serendipity

In 1999 I read an  article in Reader’s Digest  that changed my life.   It was called “50 Things to do before you die.”

Wendy Swallow Williams, the author  suggested  writing a list of things you’d  like to see happen.

This was 10 years before The Bucket List  craze.

Anything could be on the list.

As you would write the list, don’t  let money be a factor; just take some time to dream.  Before you die, If God would make a way, what are fifty things you’d like to do?

Maybe you’d like to take a trip…or several trips.

Maybe you’d  like to learn how to play the piano or ride in a helicopter.

Maybe you’d take a 6 month extended trip across the United States and see people and places.

The key was  to take some quiet time and let your mind dream.  Wendy  had listed several places she wanted to visit, skills she wanted to acquire, etc.

I spent some time and identified 25 things I wanted to  do…if you’ve never done this sort of thing before, it is not as easy as it sounds.


It’s been 16 years since that first list…here is a portion of  my current list:

1.  Take a cross country motorcycle trip

(I did end up getting an 800 CC Suzuki  Intruder/  got my license…rode it for a couple of years then changed my mind…too many people locally were getting killed on bikes.  I’m not so concerned about dying.  It’s getting into a motorcycle accident and living the rest of my life in a wheel chair...that concerned  me.

2.  Work on a potter’s wheel   (done)

3.  Take a trip to Ireland

4,  Write a book   (done)

5.   Run the mile without stopping

6.  Learn how to swim.

7.  Take an extended trip (several months if possible) across the US and see people and places

8.  Record a song  (done)

9. Take a painting class  (done)

10.  Have a Bed and breakfast  (done)

11.  Speak in front of a large crowd  (I’m thinking @ least 5000 ) (I love to push that fear envelope)

12. Take a class in self -defense  (done)

13.  Learn how to make wine

14.  Visit Germany. Sprekenze Deutch? 😉

15.  Visit New Zealand

16.  Host an outdoor concert among our apple trees (done)…(  and we’ve had 7 16 of them since I first wrote this list)

17.  Be totally out of debt including our mortgage ( 99% done on this one)

18.  Go whitewater rafting, (done)

19.  Float down our local river until it connects to the Mississippi River.

20 .  Take up kayaking w/ my wife

21. learn to fence (as in swords)

22. sing or perform in a band or music group that sounds excellent

23.  plant apple trees and beautify our grounds (done)

24.  get up close to a gorilla/ look into his eyes.

25. ride 1 day @ least in RAGBRAI  (it is a week long bike ride across Iowa)

26. not be overweight and keep it off  (I dropped 35 pounds 2 years ago/ got too thin/ I’m just 5 pounds above where I’d like to be currently)

27. complete a Narnia display  on our property complete with a wardrobe and false back door leading into the woods

28. learn how to play fiddle

29.  scuba dive with tanks

30.  get a really good camera w/ a zoom and close up lens so I can perfect my picture taking abilities

31.  grow 75% of our own food

32. learn how to butcher a large animal

33. visit Muir Woods

34.  Ride the train from Saint Paul to  Seattle too see friends

35.  Take a road trip down the coast of Oregon from Seattle into California

Hopefully you’ll not come away with the thought I’m advocating  a ‘health, wealth, and prosperity gospel” because I’m not.  On the other hand, some of us have gone to the other extreme, thinking it would be nonspiritual to have such a list.

As much as anything, my bucket list has enriched my life 10 fold.  It has allowed me to channel my energy (passion) for life and see tangible fruit.

My mother-in-law was in her mid 60’s when she passed away.  She told me just a few years before she died of brain cancer not to wait until I was her age to travel and do those things she’d always wanted to do but never seemed to find the time or money to pull off.   Her husband (my father-in law) had already died by this point (He  was in his early 60’s when he’d passed away)…so at the time of my conversation with her, she was planning a trip to Ireland with a girl friend…

She said to me:

      “Doug, do those things  you want to do while you can…there  is no guarantee you’ll be able to  later….look at me.

 Jack and I planned to travel and do these things when he retired…we never made it….”

That conversation gave me permission to pursue my life with even more passion, if that is possible…

 Someone with passion


14 thoughts on “Passsion

  1. Lists like these are interesting, but I don’t have enough years left for 50 items. I did come up with five or six things I’d like to accomplish in the next decade, but a certain realism comes into play. Slowing down and simplifying life are more important now than setting a multitude of new goals.

    Since I did my traveling, sailing, overseas work, and such in the earlier parts of my life, I’m free of the regrets some of my friends feel — the ones who are discovering, in retirement, that they’re no longer physically able to do the things they want to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We loved the film Serendipity and it comes to mind when we look at the night sky and see Casseopeia. I went to see my brother in NZ for two months in 2010. It was the year my brother in law died suddenly of a massive heart attack, and made me think Life was too short and not to put off something I really wanted to do. I had a marvellous time, flying first class, my sister in law saw to it that I saw a lot of her beautiful country, I drove on 90 mile beach (OK, in a coach), took part in a traditional concert, had a traditional meal, went on a whale watch (and saw 4), went fishing, and met up with a contact from my credit control days who invited me to stay for a week and showed me Napier and the surrounding area. I’ve already worn a fireman’s helmet (might do a post n that), been abroad, flown in a helicopter, been on a hovercraft, so I’ve done a little bit off a list I haven’t made yet.
    I guess I have passion…….. it just needs to wake up now and then!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lists. Don’t do them now as every time we plan anything it turns to rat poo.
    All I want to do is stay in love, grow old gracefully, and pass on without me knowing.

    Yet reality keeps on jarring me awake. The dangerous reality of the war mongers.
    So if I was to write a list today it would only have one line.

    To be together when TSHTF.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I used to think that the idea of a list like this was endearing, and maybe even a way to focus on some goals. Now, as time marches more into the side of life where days move faster and there are less of them to count, the dreams and wishes stir up regrets and sadness of things that I know I will never do. It’s difficult for me to separate the ‘gosh this would be fun to do although I know I will never do it’ from the ideal that I have missed ‘the doing’ of so much in my life. The concept and desire live on in my head, but the writing down and actually facing the words is a bit depressing if I’m being honest.


    • Thank you for weighing in on this one Deb. Knowing a little bit of your story, what you just said makes perfect sense. My grandpa used to talk about the frustration he had as he aged and the gradual stripping away of what he used to be able to as a young man….and yet, if I am honest, I also know two elderly people (one in her early 90’s and my mom in her early 80’s who have experienced the lost of mobility, health, loved ones, etc. and yet both seem to have tapped into a resilience that I want if I ever find myself in that situation….I am like a sponge whenever I’m around the 90 yr old especially :-)…I have even tried to “pick her brain” after the suicide of a grandson, (which came on the heels of the death of her sister and the same year she lost her husband) to find out what she was thinking…because she wasn’t spouting trite platitudes.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You had me at Narnia .. the wardrobe with the false back into the apple orchard 🙂 Magical!

    Hmm — have to think on the list — but near the top are these few 1) drive route 66 in a convertible, 2) Disney World, without kids, 3) San Francisco in the fall, 4) Santa Fe Art Festival, 5) Hot air balloon ride {not too high though} and 6) wrap around porch for morning coffee 🙂 MJ

    Liked by 1 person

    • In the winter after some freshly fallen snow, and I happen to be in the orchard. that scene from Narnia comes to mind. We have the perfect location. (our old garage buts right up to the orchard/ would be very easy to make a door that goes through a wardrobe.


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