Towards the end of my senior year of high school, when the places life could take me seemed endless, I was inspired to put together a bucket list for my future. At the time there were a bunch of things I wanted to see myself eventually accomplish, but I had never taken the time to put them all down in one place. Though I may have later regretted the sheer number I had proposed, I brazenly wrote at the top of a blank Word document “101 Things to Do Before I Die” and set off to get my life in order.
For the next couple of days I poked around my brain, trying to come up with a list of suitable accomplishments I’d be happy to have. The first 30-or-so line items were quick to be jotted down, as these were the real things I wanted to accomplish. Some of the notable ones include #5. Write a Book, #14. Study abroad in the UK, and #25. Participate in a game show. I probably could have cut it off around the 35-mark and have been satisfied, but I was determined to make good on my initial goal of 101.
As the number of things I recorded climbed higher, they began to diverge in two directions. Some entered the pretty mundane, such as #43. Win some form of the lotto, and #54. Use a pencil to the eraser. Others were a little more fantastical, for example #59. Do a Barrel Roll (I may need to invest in a Star Fox game). The more things I wrote down, the more it seemed there weren’t actually 101 exact things I wanted to do before I died. I began to write things down just for the sake of writing something down, which wasn’t exactly what I had in mind (that’s probably how #67. Have my own fashion line got in there). I managed to get to somewhere around the mid 70s before closing the document and forgetting about it seemingly for good. Shortly after graduating high school I received a new laptop and to replace my old Compaq, carrying very few documents over from the old machine to the new. “101 Things to Do Before I Die” did not make the cut.
The list would have been lost to history if I had not opened up the Compaq again when I came home for my first Thanksgiving break from college. While I was home, my parents encouraged me to take a good look at the contents of the hard drive before my dad turned it into a Linux machine. As I reviewed the old files, I by chance discovered the list and figured I should give completing it the ol’ college try. Once I was back in Atlanta I put myself to work to round the list out.
Having 8 additional months of life experiences made coming up with ~25 more goals a little easier to accomplish. A few of the ones I came up with post-high school seemed doable at the time, such as #92. Purchase a custom license plate. A good deal of the others, however, will require a lot more work to accomplish, such as #84. Model, or #91. Become knighted.
As I composed the list from start to finish, I thought little of whether some of these things were actually doable, but rather of how much I’d enjoy having actually done them. Will I ever manage to live forever like I wrote for #8? Is there a realistic chance I could find myself negotiating a hostage situation like I planned for #18? Where exactly will I draw the line for #86. Destroy borders (though I don’t have to worry about the bookstore, Borders, as their demise has already been arranged)?
I’ll admit, quite a few of these goals are juvenile in nature. Though there’s a chance I’ll never get the opportunity to cross off half of these objectives, there’s something about this list that keeps me coming back to it. If I had to guess, it’s probably a desire to not lose touch with my younger self; the desire to make my younger self proud by doing all of the things that would have made him happy. Every time I open the document I scan the list to see if there’s something new I’ve actually got around to accomplishing before recording a little description of the deed. While I’ve teased some of the items on this list, I have a dream of one day writing a whole book on how I managed to conquer all 101 things. Leaving little notes to myself is not only a good way to keep track of what I’ve accomplished today, but also will come in handy if I need to remember on what day I found the end to Pi (#90).
Depending on how you judge the completion of some of these tasks, I’ve accomplished about 9/101. At this rate, I’ll be able to cross off all 101 within the next 61 years, give or take. While it may seem impossible to accomplish it all, I don’t think I’m going to forget about this list again. If I were you, reader, I would look out. Jacob Albrecht has a plan, and it’s going to take him places.