The bucket list

On my bucket list. A working visit to India.

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…

Amazing food outside of Shanghai

10 thoughts on “The bucket list

  1. Thank you for your insights, honesty, and wisdom. It is a privilege to continue to learn from you as you share this journey. xoxo


  2. Another insightful post. Thank you Harry. You pop into my thoughts often as I help my hubby Jim recover from his second minor surgery this year. Torn meniscus this time and slow going. Our unofficial bucket list is also being revised and adjusted. Sending love from the eastern Sierra.❤️


  3. Thanks again Harry for sharing your insights. You continue to be a master teacher. We should all take the high road – even during these difficult times. I also love your reflections of the Bucket List. I think you are right – it really is about gratitude for what we have been able to do and being realistic about what we can do. So grateful for your sharing.


  4. I think you should add one more thing to your bucket list – and check it off completely. That one thing is being a true friend. Not only have you met wonderful people – you are wonderful in return. You are a great conversationalist. You really listen to people, ask questions and then remember what you talked about the next time you see them. You share things that people are interested in. You say yes when others need a favor or help. You are loyal and have a huge number of longterm relationships. I hope to be as good a friend to others as you have been to me. Thanks for sharing your post, as always. Love you!


  5. Yet another pearl of wisdom from the Wittenbergs: “You bring up your kids to be strong and independent and, damn it, they go ahead and do it.” I love that! Most people’s bucket lists are long lists of things to do and see. Your bucket list includes the most important stuff, having to do with one’s inner life: cultivating the capacity to love, learn, help people, and build the resilience you show every day.


  6. Once again you contribute to your bucket list of wanting to leave a world better than the one you found. You have indeed accomplished through so many different impacts you’ve had as well as your writings which teach all of us far and wide. I’ve learned more and more from and about you in each post. My bucket list does, in fact, reflect my gratitude for my children, grandchildren and a dear friend who is closer to me than family.

    Thank you once again for letting us “newbies” learn more about living. I do so hope that we can arrange a lunch some day soon. There is always so much to reflect upon after reading your “sharing story.”


  7. Thanks, Harry, for your heartfelt sharing of all of your bucket list. Honored to be a friend and laugh together. Your taking the high road inspires oh so many of us. Sending love and a hug.


  8. Hesh,
    Having known you for so many years, you blog post are a gift to further gain insight to the man you are. I am honoured to be your friend and experience some of the buckets on your list!


  9. Hey ‘arry, reading your updated blog from across the water in blighty. Humble thank you for sharing – it brings perspective to our busy lives. Missing you at work Harry – Helen


  10. Love how you and MaryAnn reframed your bucket list, you have had more Bay Area adventures in the last several months than most people have in a few years!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s