Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Of Buckets and Lists

I never really liked the concept of the "bucket list".  Like many things in my life, I think that goes back to my childhood, where, growing up, there wasn't enough money for seemingly frivolous things (such as pursuing a "bucket list").  What's more, I'll note that I hadn't been to Wilkes-Barre until my mid-teens, so world-travel didn't seem all that likely.  As I got older and the realities of career and family took hold, well, you know how it goes.

Fast forward to now, and within two weeks my wife and I start a trip where I truly get to do "bucket list" caliber stuff.  This is an adventure of almost two years in the making and marks the first time I get to visit another country(1).  In fact, this trip will take us to eight different countries(2) and will end in Stockholm, Sweden, a place that I've always wanted to visit ever since I was a teenage ABBA fan in the 70's.

(Image from Wikipedia)

Taking this much time off from work is something of a struggle for both Ms. Rivers and me, and just to make it even more complicated, I'm going to be in Colorado on company business up until the day before we depart for our journey.  Anyway, I'll end up burning off 60% of my vacation time this year on this one trip alone.  In the end though, what's the purpose of vacation time if you don't use it?

Making all of this even better, if such a thing were even possible, is that fact that we're going on this trip with my wife's parents and siblings.  As I've mentioned on this blog a few times, I'm lucky to be a part of her wonderful family.  And adventures are always best shared with family and friends.

In addition to becoming all worldly and stuff, I'm taking advantage of the travel to really take stock of a few things, which seems entirely appropriate as I stare-down the final 25% of my working adult life.  How frightening is that, by the way?  These ponderings involve questions such as:

Am I doing the things that I really want to do?  

What is it that I really enjoy doing anyway?

Am I truly working hard for the right things, or am I more like a dog simply chasing his tail?

Am I making a difference?  

Do I need to make a difference, at least at work?

Some of these questions represent a kind of luxury in action.  By "luxury" I mean that I have the luxury of being reasonably sure that I can work and meet my basic needs, without having to worry about, for example, hospital bills for sick children and teenager cell phone bills.  Been there, done that already.  Now?  Maybe I need to be thinking about working less for economics and ego(3) and more for reasons that are more important on a different level to me; see above.

Such deep, heady thoughts.

On a more practical note, I plan on doing six(4) things during the trip:
  1. Spending lots of time with my wife
  2. Walking...a lot
  3. Taking plenty of photographs
  4. Reading (I have a new book to start and a few to finish)
  5. Writing
  6. General pondering (see above)
Pretty much in that order.  I've basically got the whole Internet while traveling thing figured out already, so the hope is that I'll chronicle the journey in this here space.

Here's to safe travels, long walks, and the Nordic North.

* * * * * *


(1) Outside of Canada, which I've been to exactly once.  No offense Canada, but you kind of remind me of Minnesota.
(2) Nine, if you count a layover in Iceland.
(3) Ego as in "I should be a _______________ by now" in the corporate ranks.
(4) This list started as 4 things, but it keeps growing for some reason.

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