Thursday, July 12, 2012

Best Of... A Literary Bucket List

July is the month we INKers take a moment to repost one of our favorites from the preceding year. This post first appeared in April, 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 (ed. note: have reached!) 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.

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