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It's Never Too Late - Until It Is

Stephen believes life should be lived to its fullest, and at age 56, is training for a 10-mile road race and a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Rainy Days and Mondays

I woke up one morning to a cold, rainy, miserable Monday. Instead of sunlight pouring in through my bedroom window, as I had gotten use to over the previuos three months of summer, it was grey and dark. I checked the weather forecast on my phone and it was calling for rain all day.

I am not one of those people who are very much affected by the weather, I just check the forecast to help plan my day, and what I will wear, but for some reason this morning I found the prospect of heading off to work on a cold and wet Monday a little disheartening. Perhaps it was because we had such a great summer, which we do not often have in Newfoundland, and this was the first sure sign that it was coming to an end. Regardless, I still had a day's work ahead of me, so I shook it off, and carried on as per usual.

Then, on my drive into the office it occurred to me that I had not taken my bike out all summer, not a single time. What else had I not done over the summer that I had intended to? I didn't hike the East Coast Trail from Fort Amherst to Cape Spear, and write an article about it. I didn't go to the Blueberry Festival, I didn't go to any of the downtown outdoor concerts, I didn't attend Shakespeare in the Park, or have a picnic on the beach, or go cod jigging. The more I thought about it the larger the list grew. (on the positive side, I did check off a bucket list item by rowing in my first regatta. Something I will talk about in a later article). Things began to snowball in my head. I started thinking of all the things I had wanted to do in my life and had not yet done. How many would I now never get to do? What if I had not woke up this morning? Everything that I had not done I would now never get to do. Arrrrgh! my thoughts were getting out of control.


The Bucket List

Fortunately my commute to work ended and I had other things to think about. Still, in the back of my mind the thoughts kept nagging at me. When I arrived home I went to my filing cabinet and pulled out a notebook where I had written a "bucket list" some time ago. Opening the notebook to the correct page I was shocked to discover that my most recent "bucket list" , one I believed I had compiled relatively recently, was now fifteen years old. I was even more shocked to discover how few of the items on that list I had completed over the past fifteen years. It was a real eye opener, and, to be perfectly honest, a little depressing.

Out of three and a half pages of to do's, more than 140 of them, I had completed eight. To be fair to myself, and to cut myself a little slack, I did do quite a number of things that were not on that list. Things that I had not known at the time I compiled it I wanted to do. Also, a number of items on the list are no longer relevant. I have aged, and my interests have gone in different directions. That, however, still leaves a lot of things on the list that I did not do that, given fifteen years I could have done. It's just that - at the risk of sounding totally cliche - time goes by so fast.

When I went looking for that notebook, if someone had asked me, I would have sworn that list was at most five years old. I was so taken aback. I was still in my thirties when I wrote that list. I am now in my fifties and still feel that I have so much left to do.

I decided right there and then that it was time to compile a new "bucket list", complete with a timeline, and a plan for accomplishing everything on that list. But before that it was off to the nearest book store to buy a travel magazine, then to my local coffee shop for a latte that I could sip on while reading my travel magazine, and coming to grips with the idea that I hardly knew where fifteen years of my life went.

The New Bucket List

My new bucket list is still a work in progress, one that I intend to refer to regularly to keep me on track, and update whenever necessary. I do not want to come across this notebook in another fifteen years only to discover that another large chunk of my life has slipped away with so much still not done.

With this new list I have narrowed things down quite a bit. I didn't want another 140 plus item wish list that I could not possibly complete. I want a list of things that I really want to do, and know that, with a little planning and effort I can do.

Some items from the old list have remained: running the Tely 10, climbing Kilimanjaro, and learning to speak Spanish, for example. Other items are kind of still there but changed somewhat. My dream of owning a cabin in the woods, for instance, has become owning a beach house in the Caribbean, or the Florida Keys.There are also some completely new things, like learning to make my own beer. The biggest difference this time, however, is that (barring any unforeseen health problems, or my untimely demise) I fully intend to complete every item on this list, starting now.

It's Never Too Late?

"It's never too late" is great advice if it inspires you to act. If you are thinking that you are too old to do something than "It's never too late" works. If you think you cannot go back to school now that you have kids, or you can't start a new career at 50, or you can't learn to play guitar because you can remember Florida before Disney world, than "It's never too late" is sage advice indeed. But if you are using this to procrastinate, "I'll do it later, there's Lot's of Time, it's never too late", think again. None of us know how much time we have, and there will come a time for every one of us when it will be too late. As Buddha said "The trouble is, you think you have time". Don't let your bucket list be found in the bottom of a drawer, never to be completed.

© 2018 Stephen Barnes

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