Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Life Lists and The Secret

I've been thinking a lot about "life lists" these days. I can't say I've ever had a "life list" per se, but there have always been things I wanted to do. I didn't write them down and didn't necessarily share them with others, but they were there - and "real" to me.

What is amazing is that at age 45, without trying too hard, I've done a lot of those things. Opportunities I never imagined would exist opened up and all I had to do was walk through the door. That, I guess, is the trick - walking through the door.

It was a real turning point for me when I realized in my early 20s that the list I'd made for my career path had all come to pass. I had done everything on the list I made half way through college before I even graduated - be a DJ, be a TV reporter, be a radio news person. Admittedly, I was never a big dreamer career-wise. It's not my focus, and it never has been.

In the great irony of life, I was passed over for those TV "reporter" jobs at college because I was heavy and didn't fit what instructors thought would be marketable. So, instead of being on the local access cable channel with a university production, I was working as a reporter at the local ABC affiliate. While others were producing radio pieces for class I was working as a DJ at one station and a reporter at another. Was it because I was so much better? Hell no. Was it because I was so much more driven? Nope. It was just because I didn't see any reason why I couldn't. So, I did. Ah, the ignorance of youth - 'tis a beautiful thing, n'est pas?

And that leads nicely into travel. You know how most little girls dream of having babies and playing house? Well, I loved my dolls but when I played house, my favorite game was lining the dolls up on the couch, kissing them goodbye, and leaving them with the nanny while I jetted off to parts unknown.

I truly didn't know what those parts were when I was a kid - I don't think I even knew where France, or probably even Maine, was - but that was my favorite game. Nor did I know anyone who had a nanny. Did I get that idea from Mr. French? I'd never been on an airplane. Shoot, I'd never even been on a car trip. I'd probably never been even 100 miles from home.

One of my favorite gifts ever as a kid was when my Aunt Eva sent me a little train case, that was just like my Aunt Audrey's. I adored her train case. Oh my gosh, I loved it. Well, Aunt Eva sent me a child version and I would pack it and walk out the door with it in tow, leaving my dolls lined up on the couch - five of them, in case you're wondering.

No doubt this game concerned my mother greatly. It's probably why she repeatedly encouraged me to not have children unless I wanted to take care of them. That's sound advice for anyone, but she probably had some extra incentive to make it stick.

When people are telling me what a great mother I would make, which seems to happen more these days as if they want me to get on with the baby making before it's too late, I so want to tell them this story. But I generally just smile and nod, figuring there's no need to completely destroy their belief that they can judge the character of those around them.

Raising children has never been on my life list, although I love the idea of being the matriarch of a large family of grown children. I just don't want to raise them. I love little tiny babies - cannot get enough of them. I enjoy being around kids of all ages, but they just wear me out. I do not want to be responsible for another human 24/7 - that's why I love the idea of adult children who are already living their own lives - and maybe even visiting with tiny little babies. I barely have enough time to manage my own life.

About 15 years ago Greg and I were on a plane, heading home from our first trip abroad. I was sitting on the Paris runway not at all pleased to be leaving a place I had felt at home with from the first moment I saw the shores coming into view across the English channel. I turned to him and said, "I can die now and die happy." Not being a person who deals well with even the mention of death, he asked what I was talking about. "I have seen Monet's final paintings. I can die happy." I guess it's not the most pleasant thought for those who don't like to fly, but it was heartfelt. There have been many times I've felt if I died I'd feel like I'd already lived a good, full, life.

You see, Paris was on "the list," although I don't think I ever really believed I'd get there. I guess the eight year old me leaving the dolls with the pretend nanny had more faith than the 28 year old me. Thank God for that.

Egypt had been on the list of dreams I never expected to come true, but it did. From the first time I learned about mummies in second grade, I wanted to go see them there. It took 30 years, but it happened. And it was a case of just walking through the open door. I'll be forever grateful for the people who made that possible.

As I look back, I realize that college was a turning point, and a man I spent some time with in those years gave me a great gift - he encouraged me to read "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. It's all about the law of attraction, the concept that's getting so much attention these days in "The Secret." It's nothing new, but it seems to be rediscovered every few years.

This guy I worked with at a radio station in Lexington, Kentucky - that DJ job - had read this book and wanted me to read it. I read the book, and it made sense to me. So, I have Dave Gillespie to thank for planting that seed in a round about way. Although, again, I had to walk through the door and read the book.

Looking back, that book was the highlight of the few years I knew Dave and his best buddy, Devo. Devo had a real name, but it has faded now, and it's not a memory I have any reason to recall. Devo wasn't part of my life, other than hearing about his escapades from Dave.

Considering the amount of time Dave and I spent together, it's hard to imagine that was the best thing that came out of it, but there you go. The folly of youth - at least my youth. He was old enough to have known better by then, but maturity is a separate issue.

It's time for me to make some new dreams. It's time for a new "list." The world is full of possibilities, new experiences, new potential.

Come to think of it, I still haven't been to Maine.

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