Now I’m not trying to be an ass here, I’m just stating a fact. So don’t be mad. But as of today, we’ve more or less hit the halfway point of our little Summerfest 2013, it being August and all.
I know, that hurt. I’m sorry.
And I know it’s just as painful to hear it from me as it is to see it up close when you walk down the Back-to-School aisle in Target. (That, by the way, has been there since the fifth of July.) We have to face it at some point. But what we do with the knowledge of that painful truth is an entirely different story.
It’s a devastating reality that all summers will eventually end, but the way I see it, sometimes a good ol’ come to Jesus is a good thing. Sometimes forcing us to look something we’re afraid of straight in the eye takes away the fear or the hatred or the anger and compels us to take control and act. Otherwise we just sit around wallowing in the fact that something good will eventually end and we forget about how much time we actually have left and how much we can still accomplish.
I won’t lie, when I tore the month of July off my calendar this morning and exposed the second half of the summer it got me a little edgy. I’ll admit it. And if it got me edgy, then I’m sure on some level it’s got you feeling a little uneasy too. But I’m not giving in to the feeling that it’s winding down. I just won’t. Instead, I’ve decided to grab summer by the crotch and hang on until it falls down to its knees and agrees to slow the hell down.
Then I’m going to force myself to stay in the moment and be completely present in this second half of summer and enjoy it every bit as much as I did the first half.
So I’ve decided I’m digging my summertime Bucket List out of my nightstand and getting serious. And while I have only a vague memory of what’s on it because I wrote during one of our 27 snow days this winter, I’m going to tick through it and check off everything I’ve managed to do so far. Then I’m committing all the time we have left to finishing the rest, or coming pretty damn close. And whether I check everything off or not isn’t the point. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that I do my best to fulfill my own expectations.
And I think you should do the same. It’ll be good for you. Plus it’s something we can do together. And it’s always better to do something with a buddy.
You’ve got your list, right? Please tell me you have your list. Maybe it’s just some scribbles on a cocktail napkin or a Post-it Note or the back of your Marshalls receipt. (Because those absolutely count.) But you’ve gotta have something tangible. Everyone needs something tangible. And don’t tell me your list is in your head because that, in fact, does not count. Mental lists are totally unreliable and will not be accepted. They get jumbled and confused and mixed with other lists when they’re left floating around in your head. And they’re also incredibly susceptible to being erased from your memory when other more timely lists take their place, like which kid you have to pick up at which friend’s house on which day at what time and in what order.
And if you don’t believe me that it’s important to have real, clearly defined, written goals, then just pick up any self-improvement book and you’ll see that having a To-Do List is always somewhere in the first chapter. Guaranteed.
Plus, I think it’s just plain necessary to reach outside your sweet spot and put things on your list that are at least a little out of your ordinary range. Otherwise what’s the point?
My girl Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.” And if a shy, lonely city girl like Eleanor could figure that out at the turn of the century, then damn, we should all be aiming for the moon considering everything that’s out there for us to take advantage of.
So consider this your come to Jesus for the rest of the summer. Imagine I’m holding the calendar right up to your face and forcing you to see how much time we’ve got left so you’ll make the most of it. I know, it’s tough love, but I don’t want to see you blow five perfectly good weeks and not have something meaningful to show for it.
And remember, no one can judge what’s on your list. That’s the beauty of the Bucket List. It’s yours. And as long as it includes something exciting and meaningful and out of the ordinary for you, then it’s perfect. Like if you’re the type who never plants yourself in a lounge chair and relaxes by the beach, then that needs to be on your list. Or if you’re a recreational runner who wants to kick it up a notch, then you should have a road race on your list. Get what I’m saying?
Just promise me you’ll look deep and really flesh out the things that have been swimming around in your head. And then you’ll write them down. And then you’ll actually do some of them while you have the time. Because we do still have plenty of time, in spite of what the Old Navy Back-to-School commercials have to say.
Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItisWhatitisColumn OR follow her blog at https://itiswhatitiscolumn.wordpress.com.