Thursday, May 5, 2016

Small Things

I am at the top of the 2 in the back row at about 11 o'clock.
      I don't have a bucket list. I wrote about this in my May 2013 Letter.  I suppose this is an update or next chapter of that letter.
      Yes, even though I wrote a bucket list in the May 2013 letter and have done some of the things on that list, it was really a five-year plan and not a bucket list.  My bucket list didn't have the exotic travel laden gotta see it or do it before I die kinds of items on it.  
      In addressing this topic in this particular time and place, there are two reasons why I don't have a bucket list.
      First, and this is the reason I usually provide when asked about my bucket list, is that everyone started using the term "bucket list," making bucket lists, and talking about bucket lists simply because of a movie by the same name. The 2007 film, The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman was, per IMDb, about "Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die."  It was an entertaining film.  I get it that the film popularized or re-popularized the term and concept.  Because it was popularized is exactly the reason I avoided using the term.  Oh, I am so darn independent.
      Secondly, I really couldn't see sitting down and actually make such a list.  Here again there are two reasons for this.  First, I have a tendency to procrastinate.  So, a proactive activity like making a bucket list automatically gets relegated to the back burner.  Also, because I have so deftly procrastinated away the lead time on important things, I generally only work, often furiously, on things that have impending deadlines with severe consequences if not met.  The second part of this second reason for not making a bucket list is that if I actually sat down to make such a list, it would be very long and probably a bit depressing because of its insurmountable length.  Even worse, it might end up being a regret list... and who wants to be that guy.
     Yet, yesterday, I learned a lesson about all this:  I don't need no stinking list.  Things happen.  Opportunities come my way.  I stop and think, "Hey, I have always wanted to do that... cool."  The thing or opportunity doesn't even have to be a huge life event like climbing Mt. Everest, running with the bulls, seeing the aurora borealis, or whatever else populates bucket lists.  It could be mundane thing or a small opportunity that is fulfilling, sometimes surprisingly so.
     Yesterday, May 5th, was the 125th day of the 125th year of North Park Park University.  Arrangements were made to take a large group photo of the number 125.  At 11:30 in the morning, four hundred of us gathered for the photo.  It was festive and everyone was happy to be part of it.  It was... cool.  I realized that I had never really been part of such a photo and that I always wanted to be.  Double cool.
     This was not something that would have ever made a formal bucket list.  In the large scheme of things, or just the broader scheme of my own life, it certainly was a small thing.  It was, however, the fulfillment of something I had always wanted to do.  Perhaps, even better, I had never even thought that it was something I had always wanted to do.  It was a surprise.  I think this is what made this small thing, this little opportunity, so very special.
     In my corporate life in New York, I led an effort that resulted in the building or refurbishing of 17 (if memory serves me correctly) warehouses in Latin America.  We took substandard facilities and business practices and made both world class.  I am quite proud of that accomplishment.  Yet, for the several ribbon cuttings involved when a new facility was finished, I was never part of such a ceremony.  Let's attribute this to the quirky management culture and hierarchy of the company that I worked for.  I always wanted to be part of a ribbon cutting event, big fake scissors and all, and have a photo of such.  My pal, Ara Topouzian attends lots of ribbon cuttings, perhaps he will invite me along some time.  Given my age and suspect memory, I may forget that I wrote this and be delightfully surprised by his invitation!

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