Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Things To Do While I'm Alive

by Euclides Montes @Gatulino

A couple of weeks ago I convinced myself that I was dying. Ok, it’s not as dramatic as it sounds, the sense of impending doom lasting for just about 5 minutes during an idle bus ride. But with my general clumsiness and medical history, the feeling was very real while it lasted. And the aftertaste it left got me pondering about life, achievements and all that. At 27, have I achieved everything I wanted to? Certainly not. So, what are those things I should, nay, must do before I actually kick the metaphorical bucket?

I should write a small disclaimer at this stage. If in the next few lines you’re expecting to read a great philosophical treatise on the futility of life achievements or the fragility of our existences, I must admit that you’d have more luck finding a YouTube clip of Jeremy Clarkson noisily suckling directly from the royal bosoms. I just ain’t that deep. Instead, I’m offering you a little glimpse into my crazy head and hoping it gets you pondering about (and planning for) those things you’ve always wanted to do.

I started by thinking about some of the greatest achievement in my life so far and the list looked like:

Keep a great relationship with my loved ones Check

Find the woman of my dreams and make sure she falls desperately in love with me Check

Run a marathon, raising £1000s in the process Check

Learn another language to high professional level Check

Grow my beard and hair until I look like a wannabe Messiah Check

Snog Margaret Thatcher Check

Ok, let’s stop there because this is quickly turning into a self-serving exercise, ego blosturbation if you will.

So, there are all of these things that I’ve managed to achieve already in my life, but the list that I wanted to draft was about the things I should get on with doing now that I’d had my new found sense of purpose thanks to my wonderful [read: rather trivial] epiphany.

So I visited the rich literature of ‘thing to do before..’ that abounds online and the choice is endless yet vaguely pointless.

Swim with dolphins? I think I’d rather chase squirrels in the park. Far cheaper and more rewarding.

Fly Concorde to New York? Erm.. Bugger, as late as Silvio Berlusconi’s sense of decorum.

Walk the Inca trail to Machu Pichu? Only if you promise to clear the country of all tourists but me.

Travel into space? Ta but most hardcore drugs give me a fuzzy belly.

In fact, it felt to me that most of these lists had been drawn up by travel agents during the times when we all used 10 pound notes to wipe our arses with. But to me, all these lists rang hollow and pointless. Should I really spend the best part of my year working like the Duracell bunny, saving all of my money only to fly away to Texas to have a go at cowboy ranching? Really? If I was actually dying tomorrow, would I be thankful that the last thing to flash before my eyes was the glimpses of a bunch of cows waiting in line for the slaughterhouse?

No, friends, that’s not for me. So, instead, I think we should draw a better list and maybe even post it to every single person at the age of 16. That way people aren’t going to be disappointed when visiting a casino in Las Vegas only to find that faux-Pharaoh selling them chips is actually a pissed off usher working like crazy so that he can fly to our very own London and go on the London Eye. Hmm.

I’ll start us off, shall I? Here are the first items in my new list and I promise to do all of this (or at least have a proper go at them) and I might even add a few of your suggestions if they’re really, really good.

Keep the first two of the list above going strong until the peaceful day I give up the ghost.

Write that novel I’ve been threatening the world with for so long now.

Become a master in the science of stilt walking.

Get 200 people to re-enact that Braveheart scene (you know the one) in Trafalgar Square with me.

Become best friends with Simon Pegg.

Never shrink from standing up for what I believe.

Age disgracefully and never allow the puerile and immature child in me to die.

Never say no to an ‘off the beaten’ track challenge.

It’s possible that I may be accused of lacking ambition, or some such similar charge, but to be honest I’m not sure I care. I firmly believe that life should not be defined by how many exotically-named facebook photo albums you have.

In fact, the reason that I’ve called my list ‘things to do while I’m alive’ is because we shouldn’t be hankering after these seemingly “amazing things” to do at some point in the future, but maybe it should instead be about finding the beauty and magic in every moment we have right now.

I grant you, it’s probably not possible to achieve your greatest conquest every day. But each day that passes could be a stepping stone toward getting there. That way, when you’re actually facing the grim reaper at the final stage you’ll be able to hand in a well worn body, a memory full of wonderful victories, a heart overflowing with happiness and a bright and wide smile that says ‘no regrets’.

Right, I better quit while I’m ahead lest I embarrass myself any further by sounding like Oprah’s Christmas Special. To come full circle, I reiterate that I hope this silly post gets you pondering about those things you’ve always wanted to do with your life. I’ll certainly get on with mine! Now, who’s up for some kilt-wearing hilarity in central London?

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  1. Is there anything wrong with being comfortable? Perhaps that is the hidden ponder within your ponder?

    Would your life actually be any better if you did write that novel? Or learnt to stilt walk or become bestest buddies with simon pegg (scratch that the answer is obviously yes one's life would me hugely improove with mr pegg as a best bud)...but seriously would your life be any more improoved? Why then do we as human beings have this constant battle or searching for something a bit more than what we have...

    On the one hand its a beautiful thing it makes us strives for greatest and it is this desire for more than could be argued got us out of the trees and writing about our own evolution...but yet what is wrong with being comfortable? What's wrong with going "you know actually my life is pretty much what I want and there isn't really anything else I want to do"

    The second point would be (in a similar vein to a recent twitter i saw) does anybody really want to do these 'wishes'. What is you wrote a novel and it was widely credited as pants (I have absolute faith it would not be) what if 200 hundred of your freinds listening to you spout on about freedom in blue facepaint was disappointing. Not sure I have a point just had a ponder or two in my head

  2. Er there's not a chance in hell that Simon Pegg will be your friend. There's 3 years left in this bet and then I want my £500... maybe we need to talk about adding inflation.

  3. Does it have to be your best friend? Could he just be your friend? What if i get you to meet him and you do the rest?