CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Is It Time for a Bucket List?

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By W.T. Wimpy Hiroto
(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on October 27, 2010.)


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“Sometimes I wonder why I spend the lonely night/dreaming of a song/The melody haunts my reverie /and I am once again with you  .  .  . ”

—“Stardust” by Hoagy Carmichael

When you reach a certain stage in life public criticism become softer, less harsh. Like you are eccentric instead of loony; self-deprecating rather than being unfunny; experienced in place of boring. It’s kind of like age automatically makes it okay to be a doofus, eccentric but lovable. You can get away with stuff that once was frowned upon.

How and when compiling a Bucket List became a popular pastime eludes me—like running into someone you haven’t seen in eons, frantically trying to remember his/her name by prolonging a hesitant embrace. Although not a movie buff I think it was a Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau movie about two old buddies jeopardizing their friendship by competing for the attention of an equally aging Ann Margaret. Whatever. The main point was listing things to do before kicking the bucket. A final wish list if you will.  Makes for a fun exercise if you take insipid, maudlin and nostalgia out of the equation.

“When our love was new/and each kiss an inspiration/Ah, but that was long ago/and now my consolation  .  .  . ”

So maybe it’s time for CR2S to pick up the tempo and compile a Bucket List; the caveat being everything is tentative and subject to change.

To launch the project several weeks ago, I e-mailed an old friend to suggest we go out for dinner and maybe a vintage bottle of vino; the offer contingent on a drive into town to pick me up. No problem, he replied. Date and hour was determined. Only to cancel plans at the last minute.

Nothing has transpired since.  No mulligan.  No Item #2.

But surprise. An unexpected conclusion:  It’s not that easy to determine what you really want to do before cashing in your chips.

“You are in my arms/A nightingale told its fairy tale/of Paradise where roses bloom/Though I dream in vain  .  .  .  ”

Within days of her announced retirement as Keiro Nursing Home administrator, my wife was diagnosed a helpless victim of Alzheimer’s. Out the window went any plans of extensive travel to exotic places and leisurely ocean cruises. It would be a stretch to ever imagine me being a Jappo version of Philius Fogg or Gulliver. But I had vowed to do whatever the Mrs. wished in retirement after so many years of sacrifice (hers) and selfishness (mine). Actually her only desire was to watch her grandchildren grow up. A wish that was never fulfilled.

Today, with the freedom and flexibility to do whatever I want, darned if I don’t draw a complete blank.  No wild thoughts of winning a lottery or holding hands with Jamie Lee Curtis, moving into a mansion or driving a Zamboni. I mean, hey, it must be a matter of being an unimaginative old stick-in-the-mud.

To be sure the initial dinner plan will be revived asap. Wanting to be with select others appears to be an underwhelming prerequisite when considering other options. Not very exciting compared to a safari or South American sojourn, but methinks the inventory is awfully short because my wants and desires are so few these days. Corny but true.

“In my heart it always will remain / my stardust melody / A melody of love’s refrain  .  .  .”

The Bucket List remains a work in progress.  When you have the misfortune of outliving too many friends there is no sense of accomplishment or elation.  But there is an enhanced appreciation and love of those that remain. Definitely.

Right this moment there is nothing to crave except hope that whatever lies ahead is sans pain and not too much sorrow.

So have a little faith and trust / in what tomorrow brings / You’ll reach a star / Because there are such things  .  .  .

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W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached by e-mail. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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