All creative endeavors will be paused for a magnificent event tonight: Date Night! The kids are at a sleepover with the grandparents, and—if only for 18 hours—there will be silence, glorious quietness, between these four walls of our home. Today’s narrative is not of the merits of dating your spouse for that is a much more important topic to be reserved for an entire installment, however Exceeding Your Grasp is directly related. But first, a recap of date night: casual burger and fries dinner at Red Robin, brief stroll around the shopping mall with a jaunt into the local Target, movie rental of The Lost City of Z, and the first preseason NFL game of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was quiet an enjoyable evening—quiet time to talk as spouses, sans children—and once the third-quarter clocked in for the Steelers, we chose to start our movie night.

I’m not going to ruin the story for you, but the The Lost City of Z tells the tale of an adventurer/explorer, Percy Fawcett, who was tasked by the Royal Geographical Society to identify the actual border between Bolivia and Brazil. The expedition was launched to disarm a heated debate between the two nations who teetered on the thin edge of war. While engaged in this expedition, Fawcett discovers traces of a previously unknown civilization in South America, a culture designated as The Lost City of Z. Upon returning to Britain, and sharing his questionable archaeological findings, he convinces deep-pocketed investors to fund a return expedition to search for the lost city. The rest of the story is not relevant to my narrative, so I will omit it, although it wasn’t a terrible story (if you like ambiguous and unresolved endings) and you should look into on your own. The take-away, for me at least, was a moment in the movie where Percy’s wife quotes a line from Andrea del Sarto, a poem by Robert Browning.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” ~ Robert Browning

And with that question—and the search for an applicable response within my life—became wedged into the folds of my gray matter. First, what does the quote actually mean? I think that it means that you and I should strive for something difficult, even if it is unattainable or seemingly impossible to achieve. While striving for this juggernaut of an achievement, we will find something worthwhile and deeply satisfying, even if we do not meet our exact and specific planned goals.

And with that revelation, it seems only logical to sketch, with pixels and words, my lifetime bucket list. “Oh Brian, you and your bucket lists,” you may say to yourself. Yes, but without planning there will never be an execution of thoughts and actions. For example, if you want to vacation at the beach in one year’s time, you do not wait until the week before departure to plan, pack, and reserve a hotel spot. Rarely, does life afford you the luxuries of procrastination. So, when we discuss the matters of life experiences and adventures, is it repetitive to acknowledge an order and logic to life? It’s not, so indulge me.

My Lifetime Bucket List (subject to change)

Differing from my 2017-2018 Bucket List, the following items are intended to be completed before my last breath of life. The problem, of course, is that you never know the time, place, and circumstance of your actual last breath. The best that you can do is hope and pray for a long life, time enough to complete a majority portion of life’s adventures. Get started now!

When I initially created my yearly list, I completed a few hours of research on the logistics of creating a list of goals. One valuable tool was a TEDx Melbourne talk titled Life’s way too short not to live your Bucket List by Travis Bell. His twelve-step formula for creating a life list was ingenious and inspiring, and I’m going to paraphrase the process below.

Each portion of a completed life-long bucket list follows the acronym of M-Y-B-U-C-K-E-T-L-I-S-T. For each prompt, simply create list items that are applicable under each letter of the acronym. That’s all there is to creating a well-rounded, list of potential life experiences. You can see the items that I have added to my list, but I encourage you to create your own serious plan of action, plan of attack for the time that you have remaining on this planet. Or else, you can just spend your time mentally glued to Facebook instead—your choice.

M (people that you want to meet, just because)

  • Bill Bryson

Y (outline your future proud achievements)

  • Pay off my house
  • Put three kids through college
  • Be a cool grandfather
  • Minimize my life
  • Be debt free
  • Have three months of living expenses saved in bank
  • Design and build a phone app

B (buy that special something, for yourself or someone else)

  • Own a classic VW Beetle
  • Attend a SuperBowl game
  • Attend a world Olympics
  • Buttonfly jeans
  • Go deep-sea fishing
  • Own an Airstream travel trailer

U (ultimate challenges that you want to complete)

  • Bicycling:
    • Bicycle from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC on the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal (330mi / 7 days)
    • Bicycle the Montour Trail (59mi / one day)
  • Hiking:
    • Entire Appalachian Trail (2,200mi / six months)
    • Rachael Carson Trail challenge (34mi / single day)
    • Entire Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (70mi / six days)
    • Walk across Ireland (400mi / 3 weeks)
  • Ride a horse in the desert
  • Running:
    • Run 10k
    • Run half marathon
    • Run full marathon
    • Run an 8-minute mile
  • Read entire encyclopedia set
  • Tour the United States for one complete year, documenting adventures via photographs and journaling

C (conquer a fear)

  • Play guitar in front of an audience
  • Skinny dip
  • Learn math

K (acts of kindness for other people)

  • Missionary trip in third world country
  • Hold someone’s hand when they die

E (express yourself)

  • Get a professional, straight razor shave at a barbershop
  • Learn and create latte art
  • Achieve my ideal weight and BMI
  • Make my own sushi
  • Make my own egg rolls from Diana’s recipe (read the story)
  • Learn graffiti
  • Create a message in a bottle and deploy

T (take lessons)

  • Learn to play the guitar better
  • Learn that ukulele, finally!
  • Surfing
  • Scuba
  • Learn conversational Spanish
  • Learn fly fishing

L (leave a personal legacy)

  • Live a life that is true to myself, not others’ expectations
  • Renew my wedding vows
  • Commit my personal thoughts, feelings, and beliefs to paper for my children and future grandchildren (aka Project 365)
  • Create a time capsule

I (idiotic stuff)

  • Spend entire day (week) in silence without talking
  • Fast for three days, water only
  • Carry a totem in my pocket, everyday for one year, give it away after one year
  • Leave letter to myself in an obscure library book
  • Try a flaming shot
  • Do a polar bear plunge
  • Try paintball

S (satisfy a curiosity)

  • Ride in a hot air balloon
  • Skydive
  • Bungee jump
  • Eat an insect
  • Smoke an expensive cigar
  • Indoor skydive
  • Be an extra in a movie
  • Get a caricature drawing done
  • Have tea while in Britain
  • Find buried treasure with a metal detector
  • Pan for gold
  • Ride a Vespa scooter
  • Watch an eclipse (read the story)
  • Watch a total eclipse
  • Try paddle boarding
  • Rock climbing

T (travel adventures)

  • My entire travel list was already documented as the subject of a previous story titled Wanderlust.