It was Benjamin Franklin who said,
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
After running her first half marathon recently, my blogger friend, Donloree, wrote a post entitled The ‘Have Done List’. Some people write bucket lists noting the experiences or achievements that they hope to have or accomplish during their lifetime, but why not a “have done” list instead remembering and celebrating what has already been achieved? As I pondered this idea, I started jotting down some of the craziest and most adventurous things that I’ve ever done. Those are the things that I want on my “have done” list.
Perhaps the most daring thing that I did as a child involved sneaking out of bed and out of the house on a late summer evening with my younger sister and a visiting cousin. I don’t remember how old we were, but I wasn’t more than nine. That would have made my cousin ten and my sister six. In our bare feet, we made our way down to the beach in front of our house and picked our way over the rocks to the public park half a mile away where the annual summer fair was in full swing. Marvelling at the music and the bright lights, we desperately wanted to try out the merry-go-round or maybe even the ferris wheel, but we had no money for tickets. Searching the ground around the various booths and rides, we hoped that a happy fairgoer or two might have accidentally dropped some coins, but our efforts were in vain. Eventually, tired and a bit discouraged, we gave up and headed home along the darkened street which was much easier on our feet than the beach had been.
I was such a quiet, well-behaved child that as an adult I actually began to wonder if this had really happened or if I had only dreamed it. Eventually, I asked my sister if she remembered that night and was delighted to discover that she did! Hidden under my shy exterior, there must have been an adventurous spirit even then!
So what else would be on my “have done” list? Here are a few more from my younger years:
- As a teen, I walked 25 miles (twice) through the streets of Vancouver in that city’s first two Miles for Millions walkathons. The hugely popular fundraiser for Oxfam Canada was introduced in Canada’s centennial year, 1967, several years before the country went metric. I even had the privilege of meeting one of my heroes, Coast Salish First Nations Chief Dan George, at the starting line of one of these walks.
- A couple of years later, I spent a night on a tiny island on the Canadian shield without a tent, sleeping bag or any other camping equipment. My sister was in on that adventure too. We slept so close to the campfire that we woke up with tiny holes in our clothes from the sparks!
- I’ve often paid no heed to an ancient Inuit legend and dared to whistle at the aurora borealis. Some say that that will cause the northern lights to dance while others claim that it will bring them down to earth. Some even fear that they will bring great misfortune or even death. None of these things has happened, of course, but I must include this on my list as the most common question I heard during the year that we lived in Japan was, “Have you seen the aurora?”
When our children were young, we spent many summers on the road camping and exploring Canada and the United States. It was during those years that I:
- crossed the Arctic Circle
- explored the reconstructed Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland
- visited Anasazi cliff dwellings in southwestern Colorado
The number of memorable items on my “have done” list has grown significantly in the eight years since Richard and I retired from teaching. I’ve blogged about most of these before, but here’s a recap with links to the original posts:
- climbing Mt. Fuji and watching the sunrise from the summit
- riding night buses the length of Vietnam from Hanoi to Saigon, arriving in Saigon late on New Year’s Eve without a hotel reservation!
- watching the sun come up over Angkor Wat
- exploring the covered bridges of Madison County, Iowa
- appearing on stage in a teeny, tiny jungle girl costume
- zip lining over the jungle in Costa Rica
- climbing the Great Wall of China
- hiking along the border between China and North Korea
- standing hand to paw with a Giant Panda (with plexiglass in between, of course)
- riding a tandem bicycle on the city wall at Xian, China where we also saw the amazing army of terra cotta warriors
- seeing two of my grandchildren born and cutting their umbilical cords
- eating a wide variety of weird and wonderful things including bullfrog
Perhaps, given the most recent happenings in Canadian politics, I should also mention that I once shook hands with Pierre Elliot Trudeau and, incidentally, found him to be a much smaller man than he appeared to be on TV.
Greater than all these things, however, is the fact that I’ve managed to remain married to the same man for 39 years and by far my proudest accomplishment in life has been raising three wonderful kids and watching them become the adults they are today!
My “have done” list could go on and on, but now it’s your turn.
What would you include on your list?