“Things you must do before you die” for Underachievers
Have you ever read some of those pretentious lists of “Things you must do before you die”?. My God.
It always involves something really difficult, really expensive, and highly exotic. Like “Learn to fly a F-21 Fighter Jet….Trek through the Congo rain forest and teach Bonobo Chimps to play Scrabulous…Hot air balloon over the summit of Everest with the Dalai Lama…”
Then they try to make you feel like some kind of inadequate loser by asking you how many of the items on the list have you actually achieved. And if you’re like me, you’ll answer 0.5 out of 100. Maybe. And, (according to the list) you’re told: “Ooh…you haven’t done much with your life. You better start living”.
Well, EXCUUUUUSE ME for not having sipped champagne atop of the Great Pyramid of Fuckzo-Polotocetl during the Summer Solstice.
These lists are fine if you’re stinking rich, you dont’ have to work for a living, and your fitness level exceeds that of Reinhold Messner. But what about the rest of us Average Schmoes?
Well, fear not, dear readers. The Friar has come up with a less extreme list, that almost anyone can at least half-complete.
1. Summit a Mediocre High Peak
By “High Peak”, I mean the highest elevation in a given state or province. Go check it out on Google…there are tons of web pages and clubs devoted entirely to this subject.
Of course, some peaks require you to be a serious moutaineer (i.e. Denali in Alaska tops out at over 20,000 feet). Screw that! Set your sights lower. If a High Peak is within the lower 48 states, there’s an 80% chance that it will have a ROAD to the top (possibly with wheelchair access parking). Do one of those.
The highest paved road in North America is Mt. Evans, Colorado, at 14,240 feet. You can drive up there with a Honda Civic. (I know. I did.) Some mountains will even provide shuttle buses to the top, if driving scares you, like Mount Washington in New Hampshire (where the summit also includes a museum, post office, and cafeteria).
Or you can just to go Mt. Sunflower Mountain in Kansas (a farmer’s field at 4039 feet). How many of us can say we’ve been there ?
It’s always a good feeling once you’ve “submitted” a peak, even if you didnt’ hike up. Give yourself bonus points of you’ve reached the Alpine Zone above the tree line.
2. Learn Three Guitar Chords
Mastering a musical instrument is a noble undertaking, taking years (if not a lifetime) of practice. For those of us who are less disciplined, go learn to play three chords on a guitar. If you don’t have a guitar, have a buddy show you. You can learn this in an evening over a few beers.
C. G and A. There you go…you can now fake your way and (sort of) strum 50% of all pop songs. Throw in a few other chords (D, A Minor and E), and you’re really smoking! You now probably know more guitar chords than Elvis himself.
3. Eat a Big Slab of Meat
You see them everywhere: resturantants that “challenge” you to eat their gargantuan “Gut Buster” gazillion ounce steak. Eat it within an hour, and it’s free.
Well, you dont’ necessarily have to eat half a cow. But steak restaurants like these will also sell “smaller steaks”. 20 ounces, 40 ounces, whatever. It’s all good. Just pick your size. Then forget the guilt, forget PETA, forget the cholesterol, and for just ONCE in your life, be a glutton and eat a Big Fucking Steak. And then brag about it afterwards. Mark my words: you’ll do yourself proud.
I ate a 45 ouncer…once. It was actually the BEST steak I ever ate, and to this day, and 15 years later, I still talk about it.
4. Take a Scenic Flight
National Parks are magnets for the Gore-Tex Purists, who will organize backpacking expeditions into the “Back Country”. They’ll trek for days, fight mosquitoes, live off dried fruits and trail mix, just so they can “commune with nature” and see some of the country’s last remaining unspoiled wilderness.
Or…if you dont’ want to play Sherpa, you can take a scenic flight and see the same things within minutes. Whether it’s Tennessee or the Alaska, there are pilots just outside the park boundaries who are only too glad to show you the sights. For a reasonable fee (a few hundred bucks) you’ll get a 1-hour flight and see sights that will totally blow your mind. And your photos from 10,000 feet will be awesome.
What’s ironic is that most of the Gore-Tex crowd will never experience what you’ve just seen. Because they’d never stoop so low to do something that “touristy”.
5. Have a Photograph Professionally Framed
With today’s digital cameras, it’s not uncommon for people to come back from vacation with hundreds if not thousands of photos. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a total idiot when it comes to cameras. If you take enough photos, chances are that you will still get at least ONE that will come out perfect.
Treat yourself and get your favorite photo laminated and framed at a reputable store. Hang it in your house or your office. It will look impressive (especially if it’s a photo from your Scenic Flight) You’ll feel good and you can call yourself a “photographer”.
6. Get Hammered
Most of us have already done this, which is one of the reasons I put this on the list. (Hey, at least you can say you accomplished ONE thing!) But sadly, there are too many uptight people out there who have never let loose and had a few extra drinks. I feel sorry for them.
Not that I advocate alcohol abuse. But somewhere between legal age and death, sooner or later, most of us will have gotten rip-faced drunk, at least once. It’s part of growing up, it’s a “Learning Experience”.
7. Read a “Bathroom Book”.
You dont’ have to spend a lifetime of poring through classic literature to become “Well Read”. If you want something quick, I recommend picking up one of Uncle Johns Bathroom Readers. These books are awesome. They’re full of trivia about everything from science to history to literature to 1960’s TV. Each entry is only 1-2 pages long, which is just the perfect size to occupy yourself while you take care of you “other business”.
Read a few minutes each time you visit the water closet, and within few weeks, you’ll have finished the entire book. You’d be surprised at how much knowledge you’ve retained, which you can discuss at dinner parties and get-togethers and look really smart.
If you want to pursue your “Higher Education”, there’s over a dozen Uncle John books, and they keep putting new ones out every year.
8. Write a Letter to the Editor…Somewhere.
It always feels good to see your name in print, no matter where it is. So write a letter to a newspaper and see if you can get published. If you’re not a greatest writer in the world, maybe forget about the New York Times. But if you pick a smaller local yokel paper, you stand a good chance at getting in. Try something along the lines of the Splat Creek Bugle or the ChafferVille Weekly Ornice.
In small-town papers, usually the Op-Eds are from seniors with too much time on their hands, who will write in to bitch about nothing (i.e. lawnmower noise or the horticultural society’s budget deficit).
The Editor will probably be only too glad to publish your opinion to stir things up (especially if you write in criticizing the seniors).
9. Set a Bad Example to Kids
Everyone has a “Crazy Uncle Bob” (or an Auntie Bob equivalent) who comes to visit, spoils the kid rotten, gets them all wound up and then leaves the parents to deal with aftermath.
That’s where you come in….Start messing with your nieces and nephews. Buy them a huge Easter Bunny, and give it to them right before supper. Introduce them to Bugs Bunny instead of Caillou. Ask them to have a contest to see who can scream the loudest. Buy them styrofoam toy swords so they can wail on each other. And when the parents have had enough, that’s when you tell the parents you enjoyed your visit, and you have to go, and you get the hell out of Dodge. You’re an Uncle…that’s your DUTY. The kids will love you for it.
If you don’t have biological nieces or nephews, pick a friends’ kid…they’ll end up calling you “Uncle” by default.
10. Star Gaze with Binoculars
You dont’ have to be an astronomy geek with your own 15″ Knobsonian-Mounted Equatorial F-19 Astro Dick-Scope to appreciate the wonders of the universe. Here’s something that you can do that will take five minutes.
Find a dark area (at the cottage, or a farmers field), take your cheapo Wallmart cheapo binoculars and start looking at the skies. You dont’ need a star chart, just point the binocs anywhere, it doesn’t matter. You’ll be amazed at what you can see, especially if you look at the Milky Way. Or take a gander at the moon (I’m surprised at how many people have actually haven’t done this). Try it, I guarantee it’s well-worth it.
If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, find the planet Jupiter (for that, you’ll have to check out the latest Astronomy or Sky and Telescope magazine at the library). Jupiter is not hard to find…it’s one of the brightest objects in the sky.
When you find Jupiter, prop your binocs against the side of your house (or the hood of your car) to steady them, and focus on the planet. Even the cheesiest 7 x 35 binoculars will show the planet as a small disk, and not just a point of light. And if you see small stars close to Jupiter…those are actually Jupiters’ satellites.
Think about it..you’re looking at an actual planet (as a small sphere hanging in the sky), along with it’s moons. …how awesome is THAT?
11. Get a GirlFriend (or Boyfriend)
Last but not least. It dosen’t have to be your Soulmate for life. But try a “Significant Other”, just once. Just to say you did. Who knows? You might like it.