It is September 23rd. Yesterday was the first day of fall. One of my closest friends turns 35 today. I turn 35 in four months and two days, which means I have that long to finish knocking out my 35 Before 35. And, as is the case with daunting to-do lists, I have saved the hardest for last.
To sum it all up, between now and my 35th birthday I still have to: Get Out of Debt, Write a Play, Go To Brazil, Volunteer at an Animal Shelter, Run at Least 3 Miles Without Wanting to Die, Read Infinite Jest, Go Apple-Picking, Paint Something I Own a Great Color, Get Another Pet (Even a Goldfish), Make a Little Film, Make a Scrapbook of Our Trip to Italy, and Play a Sports Game That is Not Bowling.
You, dear reader, would not be pessimistic to right now be thinking—with appropriate sarcasm—”Good. Luck.” Which means you may have underestimated me; though in all fairness, I may have overestimated myself (t’would not have been the first time). Here’s where I am with all of these items:
- Get Out of Debt – I finally met with a financial pro about this. While my debt is still there and not tiny, I have made significant strides and the end is nigh. Totally still do-able.
- Write a Play – I wrote the first scene. I wrote out the plot. I’m not sure I like it so I may ditch it and start again with a new topic. But the point is, I started.
- Go To Brazil – This may end up getting revised to “Go Somewhere Foreign and Awesome.” BUT, the hubs and I have been actively looking into Brazil and if we can find a ticket that costs under $1,300 round trip, we may bite the bullet at holiday time, if it doesn’t render #1 impossible.
- Volunteer at an Animal Shelter – This one is in limbo. I say that not from lack of motivation or desire, but because I hear rigorous training is often involved. So if I can at least begin the process by 35, I will consider this a win.
- Run at Least 3 Miles Without Wanting to Die – Within sight. I can now do a mile without much issue. Serious runners might guffaw at that statement, but anyone who has gone from hating running and sucking at it to being addicted can remember what it felt like at the beginning. Once I can do three miles without passing out, I may switch to swimming. Less sweat, among other things.
- Read Infinite Jest – I am on page 94. Which is like saying I am at the base of Mount Everest looking up. This is a book for which there are blogs on how to read it. There are sites devoted to its character mapping. The footnotes alone are a couple hundred pages. This book, in short, is a bitch. (But apparently, a very rewarding one. I mean, how great does it feel once you’ve climbed the mountain?) This is what I get for spending a month of my life on the Twilight series.
- Go Apple-Picking – Plans are afoot. We have a car now, which makes me want to drive everywhere, all the time. Upstate orchards here I come.
- Paint Something I Own a Great Color – I have identified the item. I have cleared it with the hubs. I have researched. Now I just need to buy some paint and block off a Saturday.
- Get Another Pet (Even a Goldfish) – This will likely just happen one day. I’ll walk by a Petco and walk out with a fish. Or a turtle. I would kind of like a turtle. I would kill for a dog but that is just one too many commitments for this year.
- Make a Little Film – I have a great idea for this. Whether I can make it happen amidst the hubbub of the rest of this list remains to be seen.
- Make a Scrapbook of Our Trip to Italy – This is halfway done and sitting out to be finished. Like everything else. But again, it’s started. Half the battle.
- Play a Sports Game That is Not Bowling – We went out armed with tennis rackets to the neighborhood courts yesterday only to be told we need to buy a pass (elsewhere) at $15 to even get to sign up to maybe play one day, if there’s room. This was not appealing, so we may just take the aforementioned car to a town that is friendlier to non-athletes who just want to play a friggin’ sport for a day. Sheesh.
Now, it’s entirely possible that I will write a post around December throwing in the towel on some of these doozies, and if that time comes, I’m okay with that. I made the list, I set the deadline, I reserve the right to amend it at any time. None of this stuff is worth it if it ends up just feeling like homework. The point of it is to make sure I break my traffic pattern by doing things that I actually want to do. Because they’re good for me or because they’re fun, but preferably both. The minute this stops being fun, I will gladly cut my losses.
One last thought.
The other day I was staring at my 35 Before 35 list and it occurred to me that I surely am not the only person in the world doing this. So I explored. Wouldn’t you know it: I found a few other people’s 35 Before 35 lists. The fascinating thing about them? They are from all over and yet all have a bit in common with mine. Take Meg’s in northern Michigan, and her mentions of making a short film, writing more, reading more, running more and finishing projects. Or Jenny’s on Pinterest (love the idea of having a Pinterest version, mental note to copy that) and her travel plans and running goals. (What is it about running?)
But wait. Does this mean we are all unoriginal 30-somethings? Or that we adult people just want simple pleasure out of life? None of us had “get a promotion at work” or “eat more takeout” on our lists. We’re all yearning for the adventure that seemed so possible in our twenties, but not just that. Meg wants to learn to sew. Jenny wants to forgive someone. Maybe we’d all settle for the satisfaction of working with our hands and unburdening ourselves from all the weight we put on our own shoulders. Maybe we all live for the balance between little and big. Before 35 (or name-your-age), maybe some of us just want to better understand what it is that we love to do that, for whatever reason, we aren’t doing. And maybe some of us will find that some things we always thought we should love and want, we actually don’t. (Got my eye on you, #6.)
It’s that last part that’s hard for us Type As. For our first 34 years, we just wanted to do…well, everything. Mostly because for so much of that time, we thought we had all the time in the world.