My mate is thinking about his mortality. ‘Not in a morbid sort of way’ he says, and I don’t think he has a fatal illness or is contemplating suicide. He’s a couple of years older than me and he’s been retired for a few years. He’s busier than ever, but we find time to meet up for a drink and a chat at least every other week.
We’d been in the pub and I said I thought that watching sport of any kind (live or on TV) was never a waste of time. Said friend is probably more interested in sport than I am (but not more sporty; something different) but he disagreed with my view about watching sport, that given his limited lifespan, he was already thinking about the best use of his time.
This revelation comes hot on the heels of a piece by writer Oliver Burkeman on the current view that happiness comes from buying experiences rather than things, and a powerful (moving and amusing in equal measure) TED Talk on why having a bucket list is a bad idea.
Which brings me to my birthday bucket list.
Over the past year I’ve unintentionally compiled a short list of four things I want to do in August. Doing one a week during the month seems logical but it might not work out like that. The experiences are free or low-cost and I have no doubt the level of pleasure will bear no relation to the price. They are, in no particular order (as they say):
Visit Scott’s Grotto: Scott’s Grotto is a semi-subterranean ‘chapel’. Apparently its walls are lined with thousands of sea shells – something that’s not as unusual as you might think. It’s only open certain days of the year, is off the beaten track, but it’s just 18 miles from my home and I’ve been meaning to visit for the past 23 years. Better late than never?
Sleep under the stars; This is not a first for me, but it’s quite a unique experience to hear the animals shuffling around you in the darkness, getting woken by birds long before dawn, and discovering how wet dew can be if you don’t have a tarpaulin cover.
Discover Hitchin Lavender; I’ve lived 17 miles from Hitchin for more than 23 years. I’ve visited Yorkshire Lavender in a place called Terrington many times, but never Hitchin Lavender. Enough said?
Watch badgers: This, badgers permitting, is potentially the most exciting. I only discovered it was possible to do it in a semi-organised way this year. I’m not going to tell you where it is in case you get there first on the very night I want to be communing with the nocturnal wildlife alone.
So that’s my birthday bucket list – no ‘challenges’ – I really don’t think pleasure increases with effort. No thought of death – if anything it’s a celebration of life. Watch this space for part 2 of this blog in September when I’ll let you know how I got on
Further reading and listening:
Oliver Burkeman on happiness www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jul/21/can-buy-happiness-spending-experiences
Edward Readicker-Henderson ‘Kill your bucket list’ www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4HMflefoF0