Before I’m Dead list

Hello to you others who will also be Dead (Yes, this is a threat).

author at glacier

(Me at Pereto Morino Glacier, Argentina. Fake smile.)

All of us have made one of these lists at one time or another, or intended to. Yours may be called Life Goals or Bucket List but those titles are not desperate enough for me. Especially Bucket List. That sounds like a namby-pamby playing in a sandbox. Or, god forbid, advice from a Life Coach at 90$/hour.

Me, I need to have an apocalyptic prognostic of imminent Hellfire, Doom, and Destruction to get me moving. An I Will Peel Off your Skin, (wait, that might feel good, like a snake shedding, or a day at the spa) an I Will Pluck Out Your Eyes and an I Will Hammer a Nail Up Your Nostil (though for some, this is a side show), an I Will Stick a Gerbil up your Anus (up for debate-pleasure of pain?)  threat to get me motivated. Luckily, I can conjure up these relatively easily. And inspire them in others.

Last week I happened upon  a noon-hour call-in show on Procrastination. I was expecting the Wine Guy call-in, so Man, was this depressing! There were three categories of callers: those paralyzed with despair; those numb in resignation; and those madcap in desperation. All lives unlived. Addictions, family banishment, suicides, each with procrastination at the root. Before this radio show, I had viewed procrastination as a more mild infirmity, like chewing your fingers nails. Now I know procrastination to be very dangerous. Very dangerous. It must be faced Head On lest a life of regret and resentment is most certain. (See how I am selfishly making this apocalyptic here, but it is true! I heard it on the radio from an Expert.)

The radio Expert said procrastination is a gene. (Is this true? Do they really know this or is it like with all brain sciences, nobody knows ‘for sure’ but let’s experiment with lethal psychotropics to see what happens. ) Supposedly, both procrastination and impulsivity stem from the same gene. I think this is great.  At least something is getting done! Even if it is coming at ya like Mike Tyson.

So with all of this in mind, I am going to create a Before I’m Dead list before your very eyes and hope that it sparks my impulsivity. My Life Coach (ok, it’s just me in a life coach costume. The pay is good) told me to make my goals public. This puts the pressure on by declaring my dreams to the world. Nothing like universal shame. (Or, at least the 3 of us who read this blog- Hi Mom and Dad)

You might be surprised by my goals, for however calamitous the catalysts are, this list is quite ordinary, perhaps undignified. I do believe good living resides in the smallest things. There’s no bungee jumping or Everest climbing or dolphin-swimming. (These are for photo ops: see below). There is no promise of happiness in an external goal, right?

This will, of course, be a forever work-in-progress. I’ll start with just a few and try to make them real for me, not a list of what I think might impress you (especially you, Mom and Dad-though you seem easily impressed). I’m trying to write them quickly here, without too much planning.

If you want, check back to this blog to see what I’ve added (or crossed off!) and PLEASE add a few of yours in the comments. Then, if there are any good ones, I can steal them for my own and claim copyright.


  • Play in a sandbox as an adult with as much joy and unrestrained abandonment as a child (see namby-pamby above). Same goes for a wading pool and pretty well everything else where I’m self-conscious being ‘me’
  • Sleep solid through the night and wake up rested and eager to start the day- if only once
  • Create something– even just one tiny thing– that is beautiful that causes someone to remark: “That changed me.”
  • Take a 10-day walk moving as slowly as I can
  • Talk with as many strangers as is possible in one lifetime
  • Tell the truth (or at least the one I am experiencing) and nothing but the truth for one full day and be ok with the consequences
  • Have access to a cabin in the woods on a river, location top secret
  • Choose to care for this body before it is too late
  • Write every day
  • Come to terms with time and its passing (ok, this one is lofty)
  • Let people go (another lofty one)
  • Get rid of f*cking junk everywhere around me and keep only things I need and I love
  • Really listen to people instead of planning what I’m going to say next that might be funny or smart
  • Care for old unhappy men



8 Replies

  • love your list dawn…the one i will steal and claim copyright of is the ten day walk as slow as i can. i want that one so badly! i’ll race you (slowly) for it? and i hate to tell you, but you are waaa-heyy-heyyy ahead on your third item. so much of the work you do changes people. think bedtime stories in the old via station and confessions in the alley. you’ll have to get busy making a new number three. how about spending a whole day near that cottage in the woods with a paint brush and some canvas and no one else in the world?

      • i also can’t paint–at all…just love the idea of it. have you seen this letter by kurt vonnegut?, he recommends doing it and then destroying it, which i love. hmmm, other things, watch a spider build a web start to finish. own a saxophone and violin and learn to play them well. the getting rid of junk is big for me too–and ongoing. get better at keeping in touch with old friends.

  • I want to learn to make the foods my mom is “known for” as well as she does, so our family can continue to enjoy them even when she’s no longer able to make them for us. Apple pie. Paska. Soup. Cabbage rolls. Jam.

  • I want to go snorkelling with my family. Maybe that’s not the biggest dream in the world, but I want them (and me again!) to experience the wonder of things that live in this vast habitat that surrounds us.

    • Kristi- It’s true. More than 95 percent of the underwater world remains unexplored. Shocking! I do remember your terror snorkelling experience though…

  • I can really relate with this “declutter your life and reprioritize” mentality you are going through right now, Dawn. It reaffirms that shift I’ve been feeling within myself and those around me, mainly having to do with simplifying, reconnecting to who you truly are, learning to be your most vulnerable self… for this is when you become present and thus, happy. At least I personally believe that is what’s at the root of every single item on a list like this. Great post!

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