Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Literary Bucket List

Recently we had a houseguest, a great guy—funny, smart, and kind—who had just turned 50. I, myself, am pushing 52. My husband, a few years older.

We are in what I consider the sweet spot: old enough to have gained a touch of wisdom and perspective, but still young enough to pretty much do what we want (with a bit of Advil.)

The world is still basically our oyster.

And yet, my time on this planet does not seem as infinite to me as it did in my 20s. “One day I’ll try that” is more and more becoming “Do it NOW.”

One night at dinner, we got to discussing Bucket Lists. I’ve always liked the idea of one, not so much for the “before you die” part as the “identifying what you REALLY want to do” part. Our houseguest, in fact, has already started writing stuff down.

I haven’t put mine down on paper, yet, though I have a few items in my head. One is a dream I’ve had ever since I was a kid—to go to Holland in the middle of winter and skate and skate and skate down miles of canals. That’s do-able, for sure. Another is to go to Las Vegas at night with all the neon lights lit up in crazy colors. That’s so do-able I’m kinda surprised I haven’t done it yet. Another was, as an adult, to sing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus in a full choir (something I hadn’t done since high school choir class). That one I actually did, a few years back—in one of those holiday community sing-alongs—and discovered that while I used to be an alto, I am now a tenor.

Coincidentally enough, at the same time we had our lovely houseguest, I noticed in the newspaper that coming to Portland, OR, where I live, was Mark Twain himself!!

OK, not quite, but the next best thing: Hal Holbrook’s show, “Mark Twain Tonight!”

If you’re not familiar with the show: the wonderful actor Hal Holbrook (who among other roles played the shadowy figure “Deep Throat” in the movie, “All the President’s Men") has been portraying Mark Twain for years in an old-timey stage show where he imparts, with impeccable timing, Twain’s wisdom and signature wit. (Check out this wonderful clip.)

The first thing I thought when I read the newspaper announcement was, “I’ve always wanted to see that.” The second thought was, “Do it NOW.”

I have a particular connection to Mark Twain as I spent over a year in his fine company while working on The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy.)

And so, I bought a ticket. The show was wonderful, and Mr. Holbrook brought such warmth, humor, and scholarship to the role that it did feel like I was seeing Mark Twain himself.

Seeing “Mark Twain Tonight!” made me realize that in addition to my regular Bucket List, I must have the yen to create a literary one.

And why not?

So now, it’s got me thinking: What other literary experiences do I want? And when I can I start doing them?

The correct answer is: NOW.


Gretchen Woelfle said...

I love these lists. I've accomplished two out of three on my list: sung in an opera, sung Beatles songs on stage with a rock and roll band. Still to do: perform in a Shakespeare play. My literary bucket would have to be infinitely expandable!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Barbara. I have a lot less time than you before I kick the bucket. I've pretty much seized the day my whole life and had many improbable adventures from snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, to gorilla trekking in Uganda, to having extraordinary musical events with professionals in my own home. Right now, the biggest and only item on my list is to make iNK Think Tank into a viable business so that we authors have more $$ to fulfill our own bucket lists.

Unknown said...

I sing a good deal around the house (mostly rock 'n roll, but I toss in some really old tunes that I learned from pumping our player piano when I was really young). Both sons (both annoyingly talented musically) suggested somewhat polietly that I not sing out loud. The nerve! But I do want to hear some great live musical performances (classical, rock, folk and rap)and I want to revisit several books that really influenced me (from familiar items to some light-weight but fun historical fiction mysteries). I was thinking the other day that the moment we're born, the grim reaper is trailing after us and sooner or later he'll/she'll tape us on the shoulder. Time to make up that list and tick a few items off.

Unknown said...
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Jean Wise said...

I have a bucket list and am pleased to actually work on it but never thought of a literary bucket list. This really intrigues me. I know i like to visit different authors homes and hear their stories. I think I will join you and ponder this type of list. Maybe even create a board on Pinterest about it. Now that is an idea. Thanks for making me think today! enjoyed this post

Cheryl Harness said...

Oh how I love a list! Therapeutic when you have undone tasks swarming your consciousness - line 'em up single file and they're not so daunting. Inspiring when you're pondering unexperienced pleasures, when - tick - your mortality - tock- is no longer -tick - a fairy tale- tock. But a list of literary experiences awaiting? Oh baybee!
Seeing & hearing Hal Holbrook as Mr. Twain. Check.And happy I am for you, Barbara, that you seized the opportunity.
Walking about in Laura Ingalls Wilder's house, seeing the desk where she wrote her books; gazing upon her Pa's fiddle. Check.
Visiting Washington Irving's home, Sunnyside. Check. [Highly recommended.]
Shaking my favorite author's hand. Check.
Seeing Jane Austen's home? I don't care if I never do that.
Writing the book that will really count for something. TBD

Barbara Kerley said...

I've decided that I want to start going on vacation with you ALL!

Barbara Kerley said...

PS. Jean, what is Pinterest? I've heard of it but I don't know what it is!

Gretchen Woelfle said...

High on my literary bucket list is seeing all of Shakespeare's play on stage. (Movies don't count.) I've got twelve to go, and hope to shorten the list during my present sojourn in London. Trouble is, most are the plays rarely performed.