Written by Shelley Plett Wednesday, 12 March 2008 09:11
“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” —Charlotte in “Charlotte’s Web”
I’m more likely to cuss and smash a spider than quote it, but had to make the exception with Charlotte. I think it’s my age that makes me appreciate what she’s saying, which, while (I hope) isn’t necessarily old by definition, does give me access to one of the true benefits of getting older—stupidity.
By that, I mean that I’ve said, done, thought and witnessed enough stupidity by now that I am able to recognize it in myself more easily than I used to.
I may be at the mercy of my children and the world in general, but I am wiser for it. Because now I am starting to get it—I have no control. And the kicker—nobody else does either, in spite of how it might look on the surface.
This thought process started when I saw “The Bucket List,” a movie about two terminally ill men who make a list of things to do before they die. And then it was emphasized with a scary barrage of cases of young, active women hit with unexpected health trouble.
“We’re trying to figure out what the lesson is in all this,” said a friend of mine after a close friend of hers had sudden medical problems. We agreed there must be one, but neither of us could name it.
Maybe we’re looking too hard. Doesn’t it seem that just when we start getting comfortable, when we find ourselves repeating things like, “Oh, Monday again, here we go,” something happens? It takes trouble to shake us up. Maybe that’s the lesson. Do it, whatever “it” is for you, while you can. Do it on Monday morning.
Everybody should have a bucket list. Before the movie, I hadn’t labeled it, but I’ve been keeping lists for as long as I can remember. Books I want to read, things I want for my house, pictures of places I want to visit, goals I want to meet. I doubt I’ll ever cross them all off, since I’m as compulsive about rewriting them as I am about writing them in the first place.
They’re just tools for prioritizing. You could write it down, shove it in a drawer and pull it out when you’re bored.
Or you could write it down and show somebody. Add some accountability. Unless you’re one of those annoying—I mean inspiring—intensely self-motivated types, keeping goals private may sabotage the whole thing.
I think that’s why the world revolves around deadlines and alarm clocks—at any given time, somewhere, someone is forced to answer to somebody else.
Some things on my lists are probably unrealistic. I know my odds of owning a private Mexican beach are about as high as being asked to tag along on Matchbox 20’s tour bus. But they’re written in ink and, crossed off or not, they’re staying.
Other things are typical to-do’s: travel here, see this, try that. But others aren’t tangible, just “known.” My dad died almost eight years ago and what I regret most are all the details I’ll never know. I didn’t ask enough questions or show enough interest when I had the chance.
Asking questions is on my list now.
A final thought on the previously mentioned unrealistic goals: If anyone has a friend of a friend who has a cousin who knows a guy... I’d settle for a Corona Light and a Matchbox 20 backstage pass.
I’m nothing if I’m not flexible.