Another new year is upon us and with it comes the ritual making of resolutions. Unless you’re me and gave up doing resolutions after the twin failures of 2015 and 2016. I’ve been resolution free for two straight years and see no reason to alter this uninspiring path going forward. Spilling my guts to all of you was a fruitless motivation tactic. And besides, I achieved a twice-failed resolution in 2018 (losing weight) so it’s obvious the best way for me to succeed in my resolutions is not to make them.
This past year also presented me with a discovery that has left me humbled and a bit disappointed in myself. A few months back I was reconfiguring some binders filled with decades worth of letters I’d written to family and friends over the years. I keep a hard copy of these letters as a backup but also as a self-aggrandizing gesture to future generations of Schmidts whom I trust will come to view them similarly to the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Having only added to the back of the binder for as long as I can remember, I hadn’t looked at the front of the binder in ages. When I needed to move these precious documents to a larger binder I took a long-neglected look at the earliest works in my collection. In doing so, I stumbled upon an old list of life goals, a bucket list, I had written and completely forgotten about.
I honestly don’t remember when I wrote this list, and it included no date, but based on some of the entries I can speculate when it was written. My best guess is that I wrote it in the summer of 1996. I had graduated from University that spring and was stuck at home contemplating my future, having not yet secured a full-time job. There’s a slim chance I wrote it a year or two earlier, but it was definitely after high school. Considering my propensity for melodrama regarding milestones, I’m confident the middle of 1996 is the most likely creation period. In other words, this bucket list is a 22-year-old time capsule exposing a much younger, but not necessarily different, me.
If bucket lists are close cousins of New Year’s resolutions, then I suppose it is fitting that I found so much failure in this old list of mine. Even many of the successes were by accident rather than my own doing. This has left me wondering if I am doomed to a lifetime of unfulfilled daydreams. None of the items listed are exceptionally unattainable. I could easily achieve most of them in the next few months if I wanted. So why are so many left unchecked after two decades of adulthood?
Granted, some are impossible now and others I no longer care about. We grow and we change, so this is not entirely surprising. Still, I can’t ignore the fact that, like my more recent resolutions, the dreams of 1996 me have been largely unmet. In a year when I deeply struggled to find a passion for seemingly anything, this discovery was a disheartening gut punch.
If 2019 is to become a year of self-discovery and self-renewal, then in my estimation, dissecting this treasured document is a best first step. If not, it’ll still be funny because, oh boy, I was a bit of a dweeb back in the day.
For starters, I couldn’t count. As best as I can ascertain, the list was meant to have 50 items on it and there are only 47; unless you consider some of the paired goals separately. I know there was supposed to be 50 items because the original manuscript had an asterisk, the number 51, and an additional goal scribbled at the very bottom. I removed this item from public display because it was a rather juvenile, and at my age, embarrassing, cringingly so, aspiration regarding a former high school crush of mine. Nothing good can come from publishing it and I’m quite content knowing it’ll never be achieved.
I’ve grouped the bucket list into six categories of like entities; things I’ll own, things I’ll create, places I’ll go, events I’ll attend, life milestones, and things I’ll do. Let’s start from the top.
- Own an orange 1969 Dodge Charger (original General Lee if possible)
- Own a black and gold 1977 Pontiac Trans Am (aka The Bandit)
- Own and retree a farm
- Own a ski-doo and/or ATC
- Own every Neil Young recording
- Own a pool table
- Own a really cool multi-media computer
- Buy a wicked telescope
- Build and excellent mineral collection
- By a rock polisher
- Own a giant screen TV
I have neither a Charger or a Trans Am but I would still LOVE to have either, or both. Nowadays, I’d probably prefer the Trans Am if I had to choose just one. And if I did get the Charger, it wouldn’t be sporting a Confederate flag on top, so an original (or even mock) General Lee is out of the question.
I will have to write about re-treeing a farm one day because it remains something I think would be cool to do. Of all the items on this list, this is the one I was most surprised, and pleased, to find. I had no idea I’d been thinking of it so long ago. I assumed it was a daydream from more recent, mature times.
CD collections were still a thing in 1996. I don’t have all Neil’s recordings though I do have many. With the changes in the way music is consumed these days, I’m not sure this one even makes sense anymore. I wouldn’t be against it but I’m not sure I’d make it a priority.
The pool table would be cool but as an adult and homeowner, I now know what a house would cost that can properly fit one. I think it’s unlikely I’ll ever own one. As for the ski-doo and ATC (would have to be a quad, now), these were items I was sure I’d own on the large, sprawling country acreage I expected to live and raise my family on. This is a monumental and personal failure.
The final five things I have done!
By 1996 standards, we all own really cool multi-media computers. Hell, my cell phone is that.
My wife bought me a wicked telescope many years ago. It is woefully underused, but I have seen Saturn with its rings and Jupiter with its four major moons through it.
I have a mineral collection and we add to it semi-regularly. Is it excellent? Probably not, but I’m calling this one a success because it exists at all.
We also have a rock polisher which we bought our kids as a Christmas gift three years ago. We’ve used it and it’s neat.
The house we moved into six years ago came with a projector and 108” screen. I’d say that’s a giant TV, disregarding the fact I didn’t specifically go out and buy it.
- Write a novel
- Write a song
- Write a movie
- Write a sitcom
- Invent a new board game
- Create a video game
It’s deflating to see all these artworks on the list and none of them completed. Or even attempted. I’ve written a blog, a thing that didn’t even exist in 1996, so I guess there’s that. But who am I kidding, this desire to create things has dogged me for half a lifetime now and I’ve made little effort to make any of them a reality.
I couldn’t possible write a song. I have no desire to write a sitcom. Video games have evolved far beyond what I knew them to be in 1996. Those three are non-starters. A new board game has faint hope, but I am sure when I wrote that I was still seeing the afterglow of the Trivial Pursuit craze. I doubt this is something anyone, or me, is even interested in anymore. But writing a novel and writing a movie both feel possible, still.
- Travel Europe (see family homestead in Germany)
- Travel Scandinavia
- Travel Australia and New Zealand
- Travel across Canada by train
- Go to Dawson City and mouth of Mackenzie River
- See pyramids
- See Grand Canyon
- Go to Easter Island
- Travel parts of Africa
I have been to Europe and the town from which the Schmidts emanate. I hope to go back many times and see more of it. Europe, that is. I’ve seen the pyramids and this past spring break we went to the Grand Canyon. That’s three checkmarks! Woo Hoo!
I have not traveled across Canada by train, but I have done so while pulling a travel trailer so that’s kind of like a little train. I’d still do the real train sometime, but don’t feel pressure to do so anytime soon. I have no idea why I was so specific about Dawson City and the mouth of the Mackenzie River which is nowhere near Dawson City. I can see Dawson City being part of an adventure in the future yet, but I can’t imagine seeing the mouth of the Mackenzie on purpose.
I intend to visit Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, and many parts of Africa before I kick off, so these will be achieved. I should note that the pyramids are in Africa, so I’ve already seen one part of Africa. As for Easter Island, again I’m not sure what my fascination was with that specific place at the time. I mean, I’d go there if the opportunity arose, but I’m not going to make it a priority.
- Visit Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
- See Neil Young in concert
- See Stanley Cup Playoffs (Leafs or Flames, hell anyone)
- See Superbowl (Raiders)
- See Expos game (World Series is too much in this case)
- See Daytona 500
- Go see WrestleMania or War Games live
Of all these, I’ve only seen a Stanley Cup playoff game and I did that twice during the Flames improbable playoff run in 2004. I did not buy these tickets, so I have my old boss to thank for this achievement.
I would still like to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
I no longer desire to see Neil Young in concert. I’m just not a concert kind of guy and he’s gone a bit weird, okay weirder, as he’s aged.
The Raiders have become a joke and their move to Las Vegas is depressing so I don’t really care to see any Superbowl.
The Expos are gone!!!!!
I’ll do the Daytona 500 sometime, though going to Talladega Superspeedway would be even better in my opinion. That being said, I don’t follow Nascar anymore, so I won’t cry if this never happens.
I no longer have a clue what War Games even is and I couldn’t care less about WrestleMania. They didn’t happen in the past and they won’t happen in the future, neither of which gives me any pause.
- Have a cat named “Jonesy”
- Have wife and kids
I have yet to have a cat named Jonesy, that being the name of the cat in the first Alien movie. I did, however, have a cat named Bandit which is just as cool. Future cats are likely to be named by my kids, so it’s doubtful Jonesy would be picked.
I just ruined the surprise, I guess. I have a wife and kids. Good ones too. Yay me! I honestly wasn’t confident that would happen back in 1996. And if it weren’t for some coworkers pushing me to ask one of their roommates out, I’m not sure I’d have checked this monstrous item off my list. I’m grateful, but also a little spooked.
- Get in good conditioning
- Play hockey again
- Learn to rebuild cars
- Learn to build decent furniture
- Coach hockey team
- Be a radio show host or DJ
- Throw a great BBQ party
- Try curling
- Learn to play bridge
- Learn to play guitar
- Play the stock market
- Grow and awesome garden
I tried to get into “good conditioning” twice. Both times it triggered chronic illness. I’m not meant to be fit.
I did play hockey again for a few years and grew to hate it. Men’s rec hockey is too often filled with idiots who still think they’ve got a chance at the bigs. I quit primarily because of this but the aforementioned chronic illness assured I would never change my mind.
I may not play anymore, but I do help coach both my kids hockey teams. I’m not head coach, but I am on the ice and place pylons and pick up pucks. I’ll even impart the odd morsel of dated advice on how to play right wing now and then. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t what I had in mind when writing that goal, but vagueness is my friend and that makes this a win.
Look, rebuilding cars sounds really sexy until you realize it’s a money sink and requires excessive amounts of space, tools, and patience. Besides, it’s much easier to watch endless hours of this hobby on cable television channels. Similarly, building furniture also requires money, space, tools, and patience. I’d be more inclined to try this than the car thing, but it remains doubtful.
Another high school crush of mine once told me I would make a great radio DJ because of my voice. This was in grade ten and she might as well have French kissed me right then and there. It has stuck with me ever since, but I have no desire to speak daily to thousands of strangers. It’s hard enough just writing to dozens of you.
I threw two great house parties after I purchased my first house. Neither included a BBQ. Doesn’t matter, they were great parties and that’s what matters. I’m calling this a win.
I tried curling a couple winters ago thanks to my in-laws who took our entire family out to try it. I had no idea I wanted to do this for so long. I also had no idea it was so hard!
I have not learned to play bridge and I have no idea why I ever wanted to. I love card games, but bridge doesn’t interest me in the slightest.
Nor have I learned to play guitar and that really bothers me. I was even gifted my Dad’s old electric guitar a few years back, but I never made more than a cursory effort to learn to play the thing. This saddens me. And frustrates me. It encapsulates my lack of passion as much as anything on this list. I’ve had plenty of time to learn I just can’t be bothered to try. What an indictment.
I did play the stock market for a couple years. Quite seriously, even. I at least learned something about myself during that time period; I am not meant to play the stock market. Not because I lost gobs of money but because it is a mentally draining endeavor ill-designed for people ravaged with indecision. People like me. I did it but have moved on and won’t be looking back anytime soon.
As for growing an awesome garden, moving to Calgary made that pretty much impossible. Suburban living limits the greatness of any garden, but Calgary’s climate kills whatever hope there was left.
I suppose the fun thing for me to do now is to write another bucket list. A 2019 version to chase, knowingly, for the rest of my years. I fear I wouldn’t be able to find 20 things to put on it, never mind 50. Nor am I convinced making such a list would result in any greater success a second time around. I’d hate to take my final breath with two failed bucket lists to my name. Besides, I’ve already shown I’m more likely to achieve these goals if I don’t make them.
Now, I wonder when the next Barrett Jackson auction is …