List for Living

I’ve recently come across another blog, by Helen Fawkes, a BBC correspondent who is living with a probably terminal third episode of ovarian cancer.

Like many of us with cancer, Helen is using the threat of an untimely death to make the most of living, so she’s written what she calls her ‘List for Living’ – fifty things she’d really like to do before she dies.

It’s not a new concept, but it’s usually phrased as “a bucket list”, a term that neither Helen nor I particularly like. Maybe that’s why I’ve not felt inclined to write one…?

So, inspired not only by the name for her list, but also by it’s existence, not to mention a number of the items on it, I’ve decided to write my own list for living. It fits so well with the name of this blog too, which is no coincidence.

When I was naming the blog, it was going to be quite uncreatively and simply, Jet Black, but that name was already taken. So, rather than focus on the cancer, I wanted to keep ‘living’ as my main aspiration, however long I might have to do so. This list is perfect for doing just that.

Apart from anything else, there’s something so satisfying about ticking things off a list. It’s probably the most compelling reason for writing lists.

However, as I began to write my list, I became aware that it could easily turn into a To Do list of things I need to do, should do, or have to work towards. It would be very easy. So, I want to ensure it is only a list of things I want to do, that will be fun or special to do.

I know for some people, setting and achieving goals acts as motivation. But for me, it just doesn’t work that way; I squirm at the idea of SMART goals, even though I understand how they can help to achieve things we want. But maybe achieving isn’t something I especially seek in life…?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m basically a hedonist by nature. It’s not important for me to aim for somewhere and relish the success of arriving at my destination. I am much more drawn to enjoying the journey, wherever it may take me, and changing direction if the route doesn’t appeal. This attitude has been with me all of my life and may account for why I’ve not achieved much in terms of status or financial success, but have mostly enjoyed the experience. :)

Maybe that’s why I’ve not gone into or through this cancer journey kicking and screaming, but more with curiosity and a certain acceptance. Of course, I’ve not had the choice to “change direction” on this route, yet I seem to have discovered, without even trying, the mindfulness of undergoing the whole experience as just that… a set of experiences.

So, I’m intending this list will be something that acts more like a travel guide than a rigid itinerary, something I can dip into and play with, change or remove things and add new items as and when new ideas occur to me. For this reason, the items on my list will definitely NOT be SMART goals – they will be as vague and unmeasurable as I like… I will know when I’ve accomplished them!

As you’ll know if you’ve been following this blog, I’ve already identified some places I want to visit, so they’ll be included. But life is about more than travelling and I’ve already done a fair bit of travelling, so there are other things I want to do, other less flamboyant, but possibly more meaningful things. And there are undoubtedly things I might like to do that I’m not even aware of yet.

Equally, there are a number of things that might have appeared on my list had I not already done them, such as… See the Northern Lights, go dog sledding, live in a foreign country, go on safari in Kenya, see a play at the open-air Minack Theatre in Cornwall, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, eat at the diner from ‘When Harry Met Sally’, sleep in a teepee, learn a foreign language, go to Michigan women’s music festival, walk in a luminarium, to name a few. It makes me happy to know that I have already been very actively living my life. Having said that, there are some things I’ve done that I want to do again, so they appear on the list too.

I was going to write the list as a regular blog post, but I’ve been thinking it will be easier to view and update… with new ideas and big ticks ✔ when I accomplish any of the items, if I create a page instead.

So, if you’d like to see the list as it develops, comment on it, join me in any of the activities, or encourage and support me, please check out the page on the top menu, entitled List for jet black living…. You’re welcome to make suggestions…