Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The bucket list: A to-do list for the rest of your life

Me on the right with, from left, wife Jane, son David, and
daughter Elizabeth at Breckenridge in Colorado.
I’m goal driven, so the idea of a bucket list as I sojourn through my 60s is a good thing.

It’s like a to-do for the rest of my life, but on a grander, wider scale than the to-do lists that occupy my current working retired years.

I recently checked off a bucket list item that’s been at the top for a while now: A family ski vacation to Breckenridge, Colo.

It was and is one of the best experiences of my life, not only because of the experience of returning to Breckenridge, where I had skied as a kid growing up at the U.S. Air Force Academy outside Colorado Springs, but because I experienced it with several members of my extended family.

I celebrated my 60th birthday milestone in June 2013, and as a birthday present to myself my wife Jane and I offered accommodations at the ski resort for anyone who could make the trip. We scheduled the trip for February school vacation, a time we normally ski together as a family in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

All tallied, there were 16 of us -- me and Jane, two sisters, two brothers in law, two nieces and nephews, my daughter, my son, my stepdaughter, their spouses and significant other, and two grandchildren. One brother and one other sister were going to make the trip, but a work conflict and a canceled flight because of an impending storm got in their way.

The shared experiences are what made the trip for me: the fantastic views that were lost memories because it had been so long but regained as a result of the trip; descending steep bowls that felt less like skiing and more like flying; the massive meal throwdowns each night for dinner; seeing how much everyone enjoyed themselves on the slopes, including my son’s girlfriend who hadn’t skied before and Jane, whose skiing experience was so fantastic that she told me she finally understood what it was about skiing that makes me love it so.

Oh, and Breckenridge Brewing Co.’s Avalanche Ale on tap in The Maggie at the bottom of Peak 9 after skiing.

The Wednesday of that week I couldn’t stop smiling in part because of the ideal weather and ski conditions but mostly from the sheer joy of being where I was and with whom.

With that memory, and so much more, I can now turn to other items on the bucket list: a trip to the Canyonlands and trips to places in the country that I haven’t seen before; trips to Ireland and Europe, to name just a couple. And I plan to carve out the time to write some fiction. And we’ll take another trip to Breckenridge in 2018, if not sooner.

The great thing about the bucket list is it’s ever expanding. I don’t want the list to have an end. There’s so much out there. There’s so much to do. I see an ever growing  list giving me goals through my 60s, through my 70s, through my 80s, through as far and as long as my body and mind can take me.

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