I laughed when I read this article in The Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/15/forget-the-bucket-list-these-are-the-things-you-should-avoid-before-you-die
I love the idea of the things you should avoid. No one tells you that. Everyone’s always talking about all the exciting and interesting things we must do and usually, it ends up being quite a letdown. The mention of The Vatican really struck home. When I was young and backpacking in Europe, I had a whole list. I was dying to see The Vatican, I was dying to see the Sistine Chapel, I was dying to see the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa, etc. I thought these were going to be life-changing moments for me.
Well, I did see Sistine Chapel together with 1,oo0 other tourists jostling in a small, packed space craning our necks to see God reaching out to Adam. I didn’t feel wowed. All I wanted to do was get out. I still don’t get the Mona Lisa. I can appreciate it artistically but you queue so long that when you finally get to see her, you wish she’d pop out and sing for you a bit. I think the Eiffel Tower is gorgeous but my favourite quote about the Eiffel Tower is still from my Dad – “it’s really just a big electrical pylon,” he announced, sitting on the Eurostar, surrounded by French people.
The thing about LISTS is that it represents the potential – the stuff that the more adventurous, exciting and extroverted you would love to do. It’s also accepted and validated publicly that these are proper things to pursue. No one raises an eyebrow when you do these things.
When I said I was taking a break, everyone had a suggestion of what I should do with my time. Take a photography class, learn textile printing, do some volunteering, do charity work, go to St Lucia, go to Brazil, etc. I would love to be the person that actually does all that. It’s a vision of myself that I really like … but it doesn’t exist and sometimes it’s hard admitting it.
In fact, the older I get, I think one of the best life skills you can have is to get yourself to admit the truth about how you are feeling and what you really want. Because we are all caught up trying to be people we think we need to be or being someone so it fits in with other people’s storyline of you. We want to make our parents proud, we want to make our friends happy that we sometimes don’t know how to make out what it is we want.
When I do think about what I really want to do during this break, it’s actually quite embarrassingly boring and vague. I want to read on my couch and in cafes. I want to sip hot chocolate in as many different cafe’s in London as possible and post it on Facebook to annoy my ex-colleagues. I want to spend more time in what I call my garden and watch my tomatoes redden. I want to walk around Forest Hill, Hampstead Heath, Ealing Broadway, Hackney and Notting Hill till I’m exhausted and then go and sip hot chocolate in yet another random cafe. I want to take a bus ride to a place I’ve never been to before, just get down and walk around. I want to meet people (yes, this is vague. I’m still trying to figure out who it is I want to meet). And I want to write.
It’s a boring list. I know some of you are at work, reading this going, this is all she’s doing? I wish I wanted to go exploring in Brazil. I wish I wanted to volunteer.
The thing about truth is that it’s sometimes annoying and hard to accept but it always liberates.