Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Lists of 30

I'm 30 now. My birthday was a couple weeks ago and I have to say, it was a pretty spectacular day. But this isn't about that. This is about lists. I like lists. I make lots of them. Perhaps it's because they seem to bring some modicum of orderly calm to a life that can be a bit chaotic.

Way back before I was even 20 I made a list. Well, two lists, actually. The first was a list of things to accomplish before I turned 30 and then, as an afterthought, I also made a list of things I really rathered I didn't do before 30. For a long time I carried these lists in my purse with me. They were sort of a badge of identity, a way of saying, "This is me, this is who I want to be and the life I want to lead." Pulling them out to share with someone was a sort of confession and a sharing of confidence. It was a way of letting people in, of sharing my hopes and dreams.

I've grown and changed a lot over the years and am no longer so attached to this list, this person, this identity. I do like to keep it around and take a look at it every now and then (although, who am I kidding, I long ago memorized every item on it) as a way of keeping me grounded and reminding me of who I was so that I can more clearly see who I've become.

I thought that now would be a good time to take a look at those lists and reflect on how the past 12 or so years have gone.

To Do Before 30...
  1. Go bungee-jumping
  2. Go skydiving
  3. Graduate college
  4. Get a job teaching
  5. Get married
  6. Have a kid
  7. Have a martini
  8. Visit another country (how about 23?)
  9. Go scuba-diving
  10. Climb on my roof
  11. Go on a rip-cord
  12. Swim in noodles
  13. Dye my hair an unnatural color (to be clear, I get to cross this one off on a technicality)
  14. Stay friends with Liza and Frances
  15. Visit the Grand Canyon
  16. Learn to drive a stick shift
  17. Drive a motorcycle
  18. Learn to play the drums
  19. Make a gay friend
  20. Put a message in a bottle and throw it in the ocean
  21. Cuss someone out/Get in a real fight
  22. Learn sign language
  23. Become fluent in Spanish
  24. Learn about cooking
  25. Water-ski
  26. Pull an actual prank
  27. Learn about 3 other religions
  28. Go boy-hunting with my gay friend
  29. Visit the 4 Corners
  30. Eat sushi
  31. Get lost
  32. Whiten my teeth
  33. Shoot something out my nose
  34. Study abroad
  35. Visit 5 World's Largest things
  36. Learn how to make balloon animals
  37. Get pied
  38. Sneak out of my house
  39. Go cow-tipping
  40. Try skateboarding
  41. Bite someone
  42. Swim at Synchro Nationals
  43. Get a black eye
  44. Still be doing synchro (also kind of a technicality, messing around on my own in the pool counts, right?)
  45. Make kolachi's on my own
  46. Make a t-shirt quilt - the top is done, that has to count for something
  47. Go the wrong way down a one-way

Things not to do before 30...
  1. Get trashed
  2. Smoke
  3. Break a bone
  4. Get fat
  5. Get a hangover
  6. Fall off my roof
  7. Let Kerk drop out of college
  8. Get divorced
  9. Get arrested
  10. Attend a Husker football game

Not bad, right? There are a couple, namely learning to play drums and drive a stick, that, while I did technically do them, I would not be comfortable saying that they are a part of my current repertoire of skills. There are others, like visit another country, that sound like small potatoes when compared to the life I actually ended up leading. 

You may also notice that there are a few things I haven't crossed off yet. The part of me that likes to reach her goals is sad, of course, but most of me came to terms a long time ago with the fact that it wasn't going to happen before my birthday. You'll notice, however, that I said yet. Just because I didn't meet my deadline doesn't mean they are left and forgotten. I have every intention of crossing off most of them at some point in life. (I may, however, leave the cow-tipping and skateboarding for the crazy teenagers.)

Besides, past me would never have ever dreamed up all the things I did do that got in the way of finishing this list. The me that made this list expected a life that involved getting married right after college, having kids, starting a career, buying a house and being at least ten kinds of settled down by now. I absolutely have not led the life I imagined, but that's mostly due to having a very limited imagination. 

With that in mind, I made another list. This isn't a To Do list. This a Have Done list. This is all the awesome stuff I did instead of finishing everything on my original list. I made that list looking forward at who I wanted to be. This is who I became. And if you ask me, she's pretty great, too.

Have Done Before 30...
  1. Lived in all 4 hemispheres
  2. Visited 23 countries
  3. Climbed a mountain
  4. Learned to ride a horse
  5. Bathed an elephant in the Mekong 
  6. Ridden a camel in the Sahara
  7. Watched the final space shuttle launch
  8. Eaten more kinds of meat than I could count (though I think I made a list once...)
  9. Learned to haggle
  10. Had an art show
  11. Experienced Burning Man
  12. Visited a refugee camp
  13. Learned to ski
  14. Developed nun-chuck skills
  15. Seen the Dalai Lama's house
  16. Been to Mt. Everest base camp
  17. Missed my very first day of teaching ever
  18. Remembered the Alamo (twice!)
  19. Become lactose-intolerant...and then tolerant again
  20. Watched a boat go through the Panama Canal
  21. Become at home in the rainforest
  22. Watched a volcano erupt
  23. Learned Spanish 
  24. Learned to wakeboard
  25. Climbed the Great Wall
  26. Taken up yoga
  27. Created a K-6 writing curriculum
  28. Gone bowling in at least 5 countries
  29. Watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat
  30. Made some amazing new friends to hang on to
I'd say the 20's were a pretty spectacular decade. I can't wait to see what my 30's hold!

[Update]: Does it count if I do it this year? Probably not, but just to prove that I meant what I said about 'yet', this summer I learned to scuba dive and got a (small) hangover while in Thailand. Here's to continuing to win at life!