Before I focus on this topic, l need to return for a moment to my Angel’s. I neglected to mention Kyn. For about 30 years, she was our accountant and financial planner. She made sure we saved as much as possible, reduced our expenses and invested wisely. One thing she pushed us to pay into was a long term care policy. We were young and its use seemed so far away. It’s only now that I need home care all week that I believe it was “beshert”, Hebrew for meant to be. Thank your angels since some seem to prepare us for an unexpected future.
Back to the topic at hand. I, like others I know, have had a bucket list for a part of our lives. My early list included moving to Manhattan, being an accomplished musician, and traveling like my friends did while I worked through college. As I got older, my bucket list changed. Moving to San Francisco satisfied my living situation, learning to play bass and being many bands satisfied my music lust. Then my list changed to more professional pursuits like being a manager, being a good designer of learning , and of course money. Oh, and I wanted to go to Burning Man. I got to some of those, and had to deal with disappointment with others. I have a few regrets I learned to let go. An early one was volunteering for the Peace Corps which I couldn’t fulfill because I needed To work to put myself through college. But I have to admit that I have been satisfied vicariously through my daughter Lucy who volunteered for the Peace Corps in Nepal for 2 years. Another big missed bucket list item was going to Spain, a European country I had not visited yet. I was not diagnosed yet and Mary Ann found a great deal on airfare. I decided not to go because I felt I didn’t have enough vacation time and I was busy at work. I thought I had plenty of time to get there, until I was diagnosed and then things changed. I already created a bucket list for my retirement. It included yearly travel overseas, part time consulting, continue part time teaching graduate school, and especially playing more music and building more instruments. Now imagine one day you were told you had to throw that whole list away because you physically couldn’t perform those tasks anymore. I was so looking forward to a productive retirement. So what next? Like any cross road you could take the high road or you could take the low road. I chose to take the high road being realistic about what I could do going forward. It’s a very different list than before. Mary Ann encouraged me to think locally rather than think about traveling far distances to other places in the world and find joy, peace and happiness right around the corner. So my new bucket list comes up with ideas like write this blog so that I could touch many people, connecting more with my community, and just looking around me to see what I could do in my own neighborhood. I recently heard a piece on the radio by someone recently retired . He decided to stop traveling to far places and just enjoy his local environs. Exactly what I thought, how timely an affirmation for me.
So let’s get on to my new bucket list. The first on the list is to reflect on all of the wonderful things I’ve done so far in my life. I reflect on my amazing wife and kids. I have never taken them for granted. Many of us had our own bucket lists for our kids – to be in a great job, start a family, be “successful “. Well, kids seem to have their own agendas as they mature, no longer ours . Mary Ann and I had a saying, “You bring up your kids to be strong and independent and, damn it, they go ahead and do it.” At our most challenging time with our kids, we also had an expression, “The more you lower your expectations, the greater your success rate. ” I have to say that my kids have definitely filled my bucket list for them.. They are all accomplished in their own right following their dreams pursuing the life they want to live. Mission accomplished. And through it all I’m still married to my bride after 34 years. Mission accomplished again.
My other reflections on what I accomplished are significant once I took the time to think about it. I wanted my work to have impact. It took years of successes and failures to get to my last nine years of my career where I felt I did my best work. When I let folks know I was going on disability, essentially retiring, the feedback I received from those I worked with was humbling. I felt complete. When it came to impact on friends and community, I feel I am leaving the world a little better. On music, I fulfilled my dream of having a big funk band. I did and then years later, its still going strong without me. If you want to hear and see the results of my dream, visit the Facebook page of the Bay Bridge Beat.
Finally, I wanted to experience the world. I have had the great fortune to visit or pass through 26 states, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, seven European countries and six Asian countries. I can truly say I am lucky and privileged to have maintained my first and only marriage of 34 years, been a parent to great kids, met wonderful people, , perbeen to great places, played and heard incredible music, and ate great food. So what’s on your bucket list? I’d encourage you to add one item for reflections and gratitude. And try not to be too rigid. Make one of your highest priorities to keep your friends close it’ll be close to your family.
More to come…