Before I die . . . Caution This Blog May Disrupt Your Bucket List

Before I die, I want to . . . .

Before I die I want to . . . Picture by Eugene C. Scott

Before I die I want to . . .
Picture by Eugene C. Scott

How would you finish that sentence?  I know how I wouldn’t.

Wild-eyed risk-taker and adventurer I’m not.  Never have I wanted to jump from an airplane, become a human bungee, climb Mt Everest (there aren’t any elk or trout that high), or swim with sharks.  Yet those are the types of activities populating many bucket lists.

That’s why I’ve not given much thought to making, much less fulfilling, my own.

Until the other day.  That’s when, while driving in downtown Denver, I was confronted by artist Candy Chang’s unique and interactive piece of art titled “Before I Die . . . .”

Chang’s public, artistic bucket list gave me pause.  What do I absolutely need to do before I die?  Tough question.  But as I thought about it, I realized I’ve checked a few things off of an unspoken bucket list.  Not all fun or positive.

I want to get involved picture by Eugene C. Scott

I want to get involved picture by Eugene C. Scott

So, with apologies and in no particular order here’s

My Bucket List

I’ve . . .

Flown in a helicopter and gotten vertigo

Camped out in the snow, several times

Dropped out of high school–not an aspiration but an act of desperation

Joined the U.S. Navy

Dee Dee, Eugene, Emmy, Brendan, and Katie

Dee Dee, Eugene, Emmy, Brendan, and Katie

Earned Masters and Doctoral degrees

Almost drowned while snorkeling off the wild shark inhabited side of an island in Subic Bay, Philippines

Snorkeled in Belize without almost drowning

Lived for a summer near Telluride in a wheelless sheepherder’s wagon called “The Lunch Box”

Been thrown in the brig (that’s a Navy jail)

Grande?

Grande?

Had several careers: Carpenter, sailor, miner, salesman, barista, and pastor

Been homeless

Our honeymoon in Mazatlan

Our honeymoon in Mazatlan

Married a beautiful red-head

Raised three awesome children (see above)

A winter adventure

A winter hunting adventure

Hunted elk in the Colorado Rockies

Started a church

Sandbox fun

Sandbox fun

Become a grandfather

Outlived my father

Morning on Haleakala Volcano

Morning on Haleakala Volcano

Watched the sunrise from atop Haleakala Volcano on Maui

Floated in the Dead Sea

Trembled at a loaded pistol pointed at my face

Learned how to live with Type 2 Diabetes

Canoed up the rapids of the Bumbungan River to Pagsanjan Falls in the Philippines

Published a short story in Bugle Magazine

Visited Israel and survived

Been robbed and given a dozen parking tickets in Vancouver, BC

Jumping into Lake Atitlan

Jumping into Lake Atitlan

Jumped from a towering rock into Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

Written for the Vail Daily

Almost been arrested performing a baptism at a public lake

Visited a cloud forest in Costa Rica

Gotten stuck half way down the rock face rappelling

Built houses for people in need in Mexico and Costa Rica

Backpacked to Cathedral Lake at 11,000 ft

Been fired, a couple of times

Rafted the Green River to the confluence of the Colorado

Also Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas River

Spoken to a crowd of 8,000 people

Taken a bull elk

Skinny dipped, no picture, thank, God

Done several illegal things I’m not proud of

A tough trail

A tough trail

At age 55 mountainbiked the Colorado Trail for 25 miles

Co-written a song

Invented the zip line, sort of

Finished a first draft of my novel

Snowmobiled 100 miles in Yellowstone National Park

Broken the same leg three times

Survived my crazy family of origin and my own insanity, thank, God–literally

A Different Kind of Bucket List

My bucket list surprised me.  But I must confess many of those things happened to me; I did not happen to them.  I’m glad for them anyway–even some of the hair-brained ones–because I learned from them and through all experienced God’s redemption.  Maybe even an unintentional bucket list counts.

Still that question, “Before I die, I want to . . .” hangs there.  It’s haunting.

Death is no abstract concept for me.  One summer evening in 1966 my dad dropped us off at my older sister’s house.  The next time we saw him he was in a coffin.  Both of my parents are gone now, and my wife’s parents too, and several beloved friends.  My brother-in-law passed away on my birthday this year.

Being a pastor, I’ve had the terrible honor of spending time with many people in their last stages of life, even until their final breath.  I’ve performed too many funerals: babies, children, teens, mothers, fathers, those who lived well and those who did not.

Facing death this way either cauterizes your heart or opens it to what really counts in life.  Or both.

A One Item Bucket List

Bonnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, discovered a different kind of bucket list and wrote about it in her book titled “Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”

But what are the regrets of those of us left here?  What counts in life?  What must we do before we die?

I can only speak for myself.

If I’m honest, though I yearn to publish my novel–and write more–and take an elk with a bow and arrow, and teach my grandkids to love God and the outdoors, and retire, and read hundreds more books, and travel with my wife, and meet Leif Enger, the top item on my bucket list is. . .

Saying what needs to be said to those I love.  Daily.  Repeatedly.  In case they don’t hear or mishear.

My father died from a heart attack.  I didn’t get to say goodbye.  Nor he.  I’ve regretted that every waking day since.  Many tough years later, my mother died of emphysema.  We talked for hours before she passed, saying everything needed and more.  What peace those times with her brought then and now.  Sometimes I dream of talking to Jim, my father-in-law, one last time.  “You were a second father to me and taught me how to be a man.  Thank you,” I say to him in my dream as he casts his blue eyes down because he was uncomfortable with emotion.  Today I’d say it even if it made him squirm.

But it’s hard.  I stood before Candy Chang’s board and chickened out.  Instead of writing “Before I die I want to ‘say what needs to be said to those I love,’” I wrote “write a novel.”

I’m going to go back downtown and change my answer.

My addition to the board

My addition to the board

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Categories: adventure, Art, authenticity, dreams, Eugene C. Scott, Excitement, Faith, Fun, God, God Sightings, happiness, Living Spiritually, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Before I die . . . Caution This Blog May Disrupt Your Bucket List

  1. I hope you continue your blog into 2013!

  2. Georgie-ann

    & Whoever said, “Life is Boring”? … & especially All the stuff that just seems to “happen” to us?? … “It’s A Big, Wide, Wonderful World, that we live in (when we’re in Love)” … so goes the song,… being “in love” with God makes it all that much sweeter,…

    • Georgie-Ann:

      Really I was shocked at my list. I’m not as boring as I think I am. I bet you have an unusual and fun list too.

      • Georgie-ann

        My list would be SO unusual (and NOT always SO much fun, buh-lieve me!) that I wouldn’t even revisit it by making such a list,… & it’s NOT that I went looking for trouble, but it managed to find me in “ordinary things” much more so than was to my liking,… SO, I consider myself VERY BLESSED to have SURVIVED and been continually RESCUED (and PRESERVED) by GOD,… for BETTER things,… (-:

        One simple example of such an event was my VERY IGNORANT attempt to walk around sight-seeing in Paris ALONE (as I wouldn’t have hesitated to do in NYC in those days), upon arriving there, alone, to spend “my Junior year abroad”,… not only did unabashed perverts abound passing by in the streets (all too ready to shock a young ingenue), but when I simply sat down on a very public park bench in front of the Eiffel Tower to write a picture post card home, I was descended upon by a flock of very “friendly” Algerians,… little did I know of their nefarious ways, and was friendly enough in return (like a “good naive American” would be) to be invited to “hang out” (as we would say today) with them,… however, as the very public venue of the Eiffel Tower park turned to more privacy in the streets running alongside, a subtle change in their demeanor was luckily enough to “give me pause”,… and also luckily enough they gave me not too much trouble with my excuse-making as I departed their company,… but it remains a reminder to me that, since then, I have most surely learned that “all that glitters is not gold”; the devil is a sneaky, determined and destructive enemy; and our only true friends are “in God” and God, Himself,… I actually cut “my Junior Year Abroad” down to one semester, as the Post WWII, Viet Nam era, European “culture shock” was simply too depressing and too great for my young spirit to bear,…

        But, if we’re “listening”, “questioning”, and “looking for the meaning” while all these things transpire, we are sure to find God waiting there to help us,…

  3. Nice blog, Eugene!

  4. Rob Honcoop

    Thanks for this reflection as we start making our ‘resolutions’ list for 2013.

  5. Rob Honcoop

    I sometimes get stuck in the stresses of the critical resolutions, like finding a new job, that the important resolutions, of hearing and seeing God in every moment of the day, get numbed. Even as I resolve not to let that happen.

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