One thing that has become popular in recent years is creating something called a “bucket list.”
I know my daughter has one, and I know she has a lot of things she hopes to do and accomplish in her life. Of course, Pauline is young and still has a lot of time to accomplish her goals.
I don’t have as much time as she does, and while there are still many things I hope to do, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of the things I have already done, things that might wind up on someone’s “bucket list.”
– I have been up in the tallest building in the world. Twice. Two different buildings. The Empire State Building in New York in 1957 and the Windows on the World restaurant in the Twin Towers in New York in 1979. Sadly, that’s a place no one will ever visit again.
Anyone who knows me knows that heights kind of creep me out, so I’m not ashamed to say we didn’t have window seats when we went there.
– I have walked on the Great Wall of China. It wasn’t a long walk, at least partly because it was a rainy day, but it was still impressive to realize I was standing on one of the only man-made creations that can be seen from outer space.
– I have been to three of the seven continents, and I don’t know how likely I am to visit too many more since travel isn’t the priority for me that it was for my parents. I would like to see Australia, but I honestly don’t know if I’ll make it to South America, Africa or Antarctica. In fact, I have only been south of the Equator once in my life, in 1999 when Nicole and I visited Tahiti and Moorea.
Visiting Moorea is to me a real highlight of my life’s travels. Cook’s Bay in Moorea, named after Captain Cook, is considered by some people the single most beautiful place in the world. From my limited experience, I can’t disagree.
– I have attended political conventions of both parties, Democrats in 1980 and 2000, Republicans in 1996, although almost all the reporting I did came outside the convention halls.
– I have attended a World Series game (1985), a Super Bowl (1993), two Final Fours (1985-86), two baseball all-star games (1969, 1992) and a game in the NBA Finals (1975). I have watched an amazing number of top-flight athletes play, and I have interviewed more of them than I care to admit.
– I have made appearances on radio and television and in fact was profiled for a story on television in Southern California.
– In 2001 my face was on a billboard, a nice followup to January 1987 when my picture appeared in Sports Illustrated in a photograph with John Elway.
– I have seen Broadway shows, plays in the West End of London, film premieres and the taping of at least one television show. When it comes to theater, I saw “A Chorus Line” in New York, London, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, although my favorite play among all the ones I’ve seen is “Miss Saigon.”
– I have traveled to every state in the union except Alaska, North Dakota, Mississippi and Arkansas. And someday I hope to get to the remaining ones, except maybe North Dakota. The most amazing sights I have seen in my travels are an erupting volcano on the big island of Hawaii and Yosemite National Park. I’ve been to Tucson and Tucumcari, to Tehachapi and Tonopah, for those who remember the song.
– I’ve seen an amazing number of wonderful concerts, from the Lovin’ Spoonful in 1967 (for a $3 ticket) to Bob Dylan and the Band, the Rolling Stones (twice), the Beach Boys (four times), the Eagles, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Loggins & Messina, Billy Joel and a host of others, including one Beatle (sadly, it was Ringo).
– I’ve met and interviewed some wonderful people who are no longer with us, among others Catfish Hunter, Peter Ustinov and my good friend Walter Masterson.
– I stood in front of an audience once and did six minutes of stand-up comedy. I could have been better, but I got some laughs and didn’t bomb.
– I have been blessed to have some truly wonderful friendships, including several of the type that would qualify as lifelong. Mick Curran in California and Bill Madden in Florida have been my friends for 46 and 38 years, respectively, and I hope to know them till I die.
– I was blessed to have good parents who loved me, and three sisters and a brother who somehow tolerate me despite my many flaws as an older brother when they were growing up.
– I have a wonderful grandchild who makes me smile every time I think about her, and one of the happiest days of my life was holding her on my chest as she slept when she was just 10 days old. Maddie will be 3 this September, and God willing, she will have a little brother or sister come November.
– I have two amazing children who have never given me any reason to feel anything but loving toward them and proud of them. Being a part of raising Pauline and Virgile ranks in my mind as the greatest accomplishment of my life.
– And most of all, I have a wife who entered my life when I was 42 and changed it from mundane to spectacular. There truly are no words to do justice to Nicole. All I can say without sounding trite or cliched is that meeting her was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Anyway, that’s pretty much my bucket list of accomplishments. I left out some things that mattered a lot to me once, like awards I won or the five years I spent writing a newspaper column, but don’t matter much anymore.
I still hope to accomplish more. I know I’ve got at least a publishable book or two in me. It’s just a case of making myself write them.
I left out breaking 80 on the golf course. I’ve written enough about that lately. I guess my only real goal now for golf is for once in my life, maybe to shoot par.
But that stuff doesn’t really matter.
All that really matters in our lives is what we do to make the lives of the people we love better.
I think I can still accomplish a lot more in that area in whatever time I have left.