Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Buckets & Wishes & Crossroads #1

Am I correct in assuming that the term “bucket list” entered the lexicon with the 2007 film of the same name?  I can’t say I’m a big fan of the term itself, but the concept behind it seems both interesting & valuable. 

Of course, the “bucket list” concept embraces two seemingly contradictory notions of self— one, the idea of a continual striving that maintains vitality of spirit & gives us ongoing purpose, & two, the notion that some collection of achievements will be necessary for us to believe we have completed our selfhood. 

We all think about these things, & those of us who are traveling north of age 50 may think about them in a different way than those who are a ways to the south of us, age-wise.  After all, depending on our health & other cirucmstances, we are entering a period of time when these things should be attended to—“time & tide” wait for no one. 
Last year, I got a chance to cross one thing off the list—a cross-country road trip that took me thru all four time zones in the continental US as well as thru 22 states (all told, I visisted exactly half the states in 2010 by the time all was said & done.)  I also got a chance to see some old friends with whom I’d been out of touch for years—such reunions will always be high on any such list for me.

But there are more—over the next two days, I’ll explore a list of 10 I came up with the other evening—with brief commentary.  I’d love to hear about your own wishes!

1)    TOUR SPIEL: This is probably wish #1 for me.  Because I entered the life of a performing musician in middle age, I missed the experience of crossing the country playing music at various stops on the way that so many of my friends had.  Now, I’ve undergone enough cross-country trips
to know this is not an easy thing (tho last year's journey was my most extensive in some ways, I’d already been coast-to-coast a few times in the past).  I do long to do this at least once, & this is probably something that also needs to be high on the list because of practical/logistical considerations. 

2)    WHERE THE SOUTHERN CROSS THE DOG: This next wish combines two: a long passenger train trip & a visit to the Mississippi delta region where so much of the music that I love originated.  Amtrak does swing thru this region on its City of New Orleans train out of Chicago.  This is essentially an Illinois Central route, an important line that figured in lots of old blues songs, & also, as far as the actual stretch in Mississippi goes, it’s close to the old Yazoo & Mississippi line—the “Yellow Dog” from the line about “where the Southern cross the Dog.”  If this trip could be extended to New Orleans, then two items could be crossed off—I’m chagrined to admit that I’ve never been to the Crecent City.

3)    THE LOWER 48: When I was born in 1956, there were 48 states—Alaska & Hawaii both became states in 59.  & at this point, I traveled in 46 of the “lower 48” states.  The two I’ve missed? Michigan & North Dakota.  I feel compelled to visit them both at some point.  Michigan has the added attraction of the best music store I know, Elderly Instruments in Lansing, which I’d love to see—& also some blog/Twitter friends that I’d be happy to meet.  

4)    I'LL LET YOU BE IN MY DREAMS IF I CAN BE IN YOURS: As regular readers here know, I’ve long toyed with the idea of Eberle & I collaborating on music for some of my poetry, & that’s still an item high on my list (Eberle is interested too).  This may or may not involve my book The Spring Ghazals & may or may not involve some vaguely planned & much belated “release party” for the book some time this year.  I hear harmonium myself—actually, my musical role is more unclear to me in this regard, tho I will say it’s one thing that’s kept me from selling both of my electric guitars.   I’m also thinking pretty often of writing songs, but that seems a separate project to me, one that would definitely involve new lyric material.  I think the project with Eberle would involve background settings.  Will keep you all posted when more develops!

5)    I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING, & I KNOW WHO’S GOING WITH ME: I’m cheating a bit on this one, because it actually involves three separate trips, all of which Eberle & I have discussed as excursions we’d like to take together.  Actually, we also want to take the train trip to Mississippi together, but I put that in its own category because that’s a real odyssey.  These three trips are all in the west, so I’m putting them together.  1. Tour the Idaho desert with Eberle.  Eberle has regaled me for years with stories of Bruneau Dunes, Murphy & Craters of the Moon.  Some spring time we have to make it down there for a good long weekend of exploration.  2. The Badlands: I got to visit the Badlands & the Black Hills last year toward the end of my road trip & I was blown away.  I also thought the whole time how much Eberle would get caught up in those places.  We must go! 3. The Marietta Wild Burro range southeast of Hawthorne, Nevada.  We often travel thru the ex-military desert town of Hawthorne on our way to the LA area, & we always mean to check out this wild burro range.  Next time for sure.  If the trip also included a stop in Death Valley, California, neither of us would complain!

Check back tomorrow for 5 more, & please do comment on your own if the spirit moves you.  Hope you enjoy the video too—it explains my first heading with a great song from one of my all-time favorite bands.

PHOTO: Where the Southern Cross the Dog—intersection of the Southern & Yazoo rail lines in Moorhead, Mississippi.


  1. A great list : good luck with all those projects. Maybe tomorrows list will include the two of you coming to this side of the pond.

  2. I don't like the term "bucket list" either. It's so mundane and kind of harsh. I'd like something more poetic or romantic!

    It was very cool that you did that Cross Country road trip. Especially since I got to meet you during your half way point!

    My list would mostly include trips to places. I'd like to visit California, France, Ireland, South America (anywhere, possible Chile, Argentina or Brazil), etc. before I pass. I traveled a lot when I was younger and I miss it.

  3. Hi Alan: Thanks! A trip to the UK & Ireland is something I do think about. However, I have a dread of flying that quite transcends Ativan or any other chemical remedy. So--while I don't rule it out--such a trip didn't make the list. Sorry!

  4. Hi Raquelle: Oh, you must see California! But how about Idaho? Yes, last year's trip was a great time & our meeting was certainly a highlight!

  5. If you ever find yourself in Chicago for a few days, let me know. I'd love to do a collaborative piece, or just jam!

  6. Odd that you were so busy making travelling plans today. You showed up at my house last night in a dream I had. We went somewhere and sat at a picnic table with my husband and my daughter, beside a wide slow river. Not the Connecticut though. An unknown river. You were wearing an embroidered red tunic - sort of hippie Morrocan. Very fetching.

  7. Hi KM & Mairi:

    KM: Will do! Who knows when it may be, but it could happen.

    Mairi: Funny you should say that, because I've thought that if I were in Connecticut as I was last year in March (in fact I think quite near where you live)I'd definitely want to look you up. Very flattered to have made an appearance! Don't see myself in a red tunic however.

  8. It's so true that we measure our lives by accomplishments. Good point.

  9. Hi Caroline: I think it's interesting that you can look at something like this as 1. a sort of Puritan work ethic thing that empasizes accomplishment 2. An exercise that puts on emphasis on "process" or 3. as a sort of Platonic ideal, where you must do these things to become your "true self." Thanks for stopping by--always a pleasure!

  10. Hi John, I guess I have a few things I'd like to do, but funny thing is I'm happy with the status quo right now. The things on my list are still do-able even with me being 10 years your senior & the G-man 9 years older than I.
    These are in not particular order:
    1. Drive to Yellowstone for a look around for a re-visit. See the Tetons & spend a day in Jackson, WY.
    2. Drive through Idaho, Oregon, & Washington states. (We'll have a visit.)
    3. Spend a bit of time in Oregon & play golf where the blogger "sixtyfivewhatnow" lives.
    4. Visit Chicago, Washington, DC & New York again.
    5. Visit Canada: a loop up through Calgary over to Vancouver & back down toward home.
    6. Take the Eco-tourism trip to Tanzania.
    7. Go to England & see the Exmoor area, a blogger friend says it is wonderful. Maybe visit Scotland & Wales.(I've spent some time in Scotland & a few days in London, but it was 20 years ago.)
    8. May take another cruise up (or down) a river in Europe; possibly through Germany. (Only problem with the Europe & Africa trips is having to fly and I hate the hassle & discomfort of it.)

    When you do your Delta trip you should make a stop in Austin for a little visit. By all means visit Louisiana. It is very different; almost another country.

    I should have saved some of this for your second post, ah, well. I got carried away.

  11. Hi Lizzy: Thanks for sharing your list! Yes, come on up to Idaho, that would be fun indeed. & both Oregon & Washington state are beautiful.

    I've seen Louisiana, & you're right, it's a different world--have been in Baton Rouge, Alexandria, that way. Just never made it to NoLa (outside the airport at least). & a good reminder on Austin--thanks!


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