I’m Now 46-Years-Old and Sharing Overdue Bucket List Items and Nagging Fears
I never celebrate my birthday. Seriously. To me, it's just another day and I must admit that I really believe that age is just a number. People often can't believe how old I am when I tell them. I like to think I don't necessarily look my age, but I am well aware that I absolutely don't act it. LOL! But, on Sunday, I turned 46-years-old. Yes, I have officially made the final turn to 50 and it's occurring to me that I still have some work to do. I feel like I have accomplished some cool things in my life and pretty much do what I set out to do. But, with the big FIVE OH looming in the distance, I realize there are a some things that I promised myself I would do that I haven't done. And now, as morbid and depressing as it sounds, I'm wondering if I am going to have the time to do them.
#1- Live in New York City
I have actually had a couple of opportunities. Two different times I was accepted into New York University's Broadcast Journalism graduate program. And, twice I declined. I don't necessarily have regrets for not going, but I do often wonder where I would be now if I had accepted that invitation twenty years ago. I have no doubts that I would be doing what I am doing now. I would likely be working in broadcasting. Maybe radio. Maybe television. Maybe on air. Maybe behind-the-scenes. I don't know. But I have a nagging longing to be in New York and I've enjoyed it and been cursed by it since I can remember. I do get to visit New York pretty regularly and I absolutely love it. And, I'll admit, there have been multiple times over the last twenty years, when I have sat on the plane to leave NYC and started crying because I didn't want to. I have always felt I belong in that city and yet here I am. Here I am . . . afraid I'm never again going to have the opportunity to make that dream a reality.
#2- Swim with Sharks and Stand in the Path of a Tornado
Now, some of you will think this is absolute insanity. To me, it makes perfect sense. I am literally in awe of nature and I am fascinated by the complexities (and sometimes the savagery) of the animal kingdom and Mother Nature. And the thought of being submersed in water as sharks feed around me is captivating and thrilling. And I want to do it. Bring on the chum and bring on the great whites! I am going to do this someday. I'm going to climb inside a cage and be lowered into bloody and dangerous ocean waters. There's something inside me that has always attracted me, lured me to do this.
The same is true for tornadoes. I have chased storms since I was in high school, but I apparently have the timing of a busted Rolex. Though I have been surrounded by them, I have NEVER seen a tornado in person. When I moved to California in the mid 90's, I even purposely drove the tornado alley . . . in MAY . . . to try to see one. It didn't happen and still hasn't. The closest I have come was the Twister attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood. So, seeing a tornado and standing in its path is still on my bucket list. Just sitting there . . . swirling on the page . . . tempting and taunting me.
#3- Visit The French Open
I am a HUGE tennis fan and have been my whole life. Most tennis fans declare Wimbledon to be the ultimate tennis destination. But, for me, it's Roland Garros in Paris- the site of the French Open. The tournament's red clay is the great equalizer. It diffuses power and returns tennis to what is was originally designed to be. A war of wills. An intense game of chess. An episode of Survivor. This is where the true warriors of the game lay it all on the lines- the strength, skill, strategy and blood-thirsty desire to conquer and win.
#4- Write an Original Musical
Some people know this. Some do not. When I was in my early 20's, I primarily viewed myself as a writer. I spent much of my time at the University of Louisville writing. And I wrote plays and screenplays. Damn good ones. In fact, a former creative writing professor of mine use to challenge and compel me to get my plays "on the boards." That's actually one of the reasons I moved to California. I had applied for a screenwriting fellowship with Disney and was convinced I was going to get it. I didn't. But, heck! I was still living in southern California. But my biggest desire to this day, in terms of my writing talent, is the desire to write an original musical. I have spent the better part of three decades writing songs, scenarios, brainstorming characters and story arcs and I have notebooks full of ideas. But that's what they remain . . . ideas that I haven't had or made the time to develop into anything beyond that.
LOL! Well, I just don't know any other way to put it. Here's the deal. Kevin and I have chatted about the possibility of adopting children, but I don't really want any. I like my life and I enjoy being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. That may sound selfish, but those of you who know me are aware that I am a pretty selfless person. I spend much of my time working for the benefit of others and sometimes sacrifice personal time and relationships to do it. I'm not complaining. I'm just saying. It's the truth. I am surrounded by people . . . lots of them . . . and I welcome that. But here's the thing. As I turn forty-six and round the high-banked turn to fifty, I have identified what may be my greatest fear. Well, at least my second greatest fear. I am terrified of death. I normally refuse to talk about it and try to will (poor choice of words) myself not to think about it. But when I do think about passing on, this is what plagues me most. I am convinced that I am going to die alone. The people of my family live pretty long lives (at least historically), so I am planning on being around a while. But who's going to be around with me? Do you all ask yourselves that question or am I just a morbid freak? Kevin and I joke that he'll go first, but the truth is, he probably will. He chain smokes, has a horrible diet and a family history of grave illness. We're just analyzing and playing the odds here. So, it's a legitimate concern I have. Who's going to be around? I don't have kids (or want them). I have nieces and nephews and I love them dearly. But I would never let them upend their lives for mine. In fact, I forbid it. Legit question- when I'm eighty, where am I going to be? And, more importantly, will anyone be there with me? I suppose there's some irony in this situation. A guy who knows virtually everybody is sitting around worrying that he'll die without anybody. But, as overly dramatic and tragically poetic as that sounds, I am trying to come to terms with the fact that it's entirely in the realm of possibility. If only I had the desire to reproduce and burden some offspring with my existence.