A couple of years ago I set up a page called ’50 things for 50 years’. It was to be a list of things that I would try and do in the year before I was 50 and in the year after I was 50.
I’m 51 today: the challenge has ended. To be honest, it never really started; I only managed a few items on the list: I changed job/vocation, read a book I really wanted to, acted in a serious play…and that was about it. Something that was not on the original list was having a massive 50th party with a friend where we invited loads of people: that was a really good memory- not because it was ‘just so’ but because we just kept inviting and inviting. If I could do it again, I would invite more; I don’t like walls.
I think it was partly because life became a bit more hectic: there was no space to do a whole list of things. Maybe if/when I reach 60, I will try again; our children will be grown and financial outgoings should have lessened.
But I think the real reason was ‘bucket lists’ became less important; as a John Lennon lyric goes ‘Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans’. Those things that happened were lovely, but then again, each day and each moment were potentially also as well.
I think at the end what most of us remember are ‘Normal’ things: family life, friends, holidays etc, but mostly those moments where nothing seemed to happen:
‘and our ordinary afternoons
where nothing is apparent
apart from the sky’s subtle palette
and the sound of
our children’s skins, growing’
(Stewart Henderson ‘Prayer of Aspiration’ (part))
When I composed the list I used a quote from Douglas Coupland’s ‘Generation X’: ‘Purchased experiences don’t count’. They don’t; time passes and life is lived- hopefully well.
And there are always birthdays to mark the passing.