A Persian Cafe, Edward Lord Weeks

Saturday, 22 February 2014

My take on a "Things to do Before you Die" list, part I

The list is taken from here.
  1. Fall in love at first sight
  2. Fall in love at the first glance
Personally I'd rather fall in love with someone for their personality than for their looks. Still, to each their own and all that.
  1. Visit all continents.
  2. Visit a pyramid.
  3. Visit Walt Disney World.
I'm not particularly interested in any of these per se. I suppose the pyramids would be interesting, but it would necessitate a journey to Egypt and I can't think what else I'd do there. See the sphinx, see the Great Pyramid of Cheops, and then what? I also have no particular desire to visit Oceania or either of the poles, and I'm quite content to enjoy Disney films without needing to go to a Disney theme park.
  1. Take a Zeppelin ride
  2. Take a hot air balloon ride.
The Zeppelin ride sounds like the kind of thing one would do purely in order to be able to say that one had done it. I can't imagine it's tremendously different to most other forms of air-flight. A hot-air balloon could be quite fun, however, providing you were doing it over a nice landscape.
  1. Go to a drive-in movie theater.
What's wrong with just a normal cinema?
  1. Ride a horse on my own.
I'm guessing that having ridden a donkey along a beach (Blackpool maybe?) doesn't count. This goes along with the hot-air balloon idea into the "This could be fun, but I could die perfectly happily without having done it." category.
  1. Tongue kissing a woman I don't know out of the blue
I've done this. It wasn't very interesting if I'm honest.
  1. Make a full-length film with complete artistic freedom.
  2. Write a book.
  3. Get a book published.
  4. Record a music album.
  5. Perform my own songs on-stage.
Making a full-length film would take a couple of years at the very least. Also, if you want other people's help then you're either going to need lots of money, or you'll need to allow them substantial control over the project. I've tried to write a book twice, and didn't get very far either time. Making it professionally publishable would take even more effort, and I don't think self-publishing on the internet counts. I do like the idea of recording and performing my own songs for a public audience, though.
  1. Have my own website.
Does a blog count?
  1. See at least 10,000 full-length films.
I suppose that across an entire lifetime this works out at a film every three days, which is reasonable. That said, I can generally find better things to do with my time.
  1. Go on a blind date.
I don't get the point of this nowadays. If you are looking for a long-term partner, you target your dating towards people with whom you would be compatible, through the use of dating websites. If you are looking for casual sex, you go on Tinder. Blind dates just throw that advantage away.
  1. Run nude through a public place.
I can sort of understand the fun of this one. But I've already tried crossdressing, which is close enough and I really don't feel the need to go any further.
  1. Test drive a sports car.
  2. Drive a humvee.
  3. Be hypnotized.
No interest in any of these, but I can understand why someone would be interested in at least the first two.
  1. Learn a martial art.
  2. Learn to play guitar and piano.
  3. Juggle 5 balls at a time.
I've done some basic martial arts, and I think I'd rather just learn to use a gun. I can already play piano and sort-of play guitar. Juggling might be interesting, but there are almost certainly other things which are more impressive, less common, and more interesting.
  1. Make love on an ocean beach.
  2. Make love in the sea.
  3. Make love in the middle of a street.
  4. Get road head.
The first three of these must surely be very uncomfortable. I understand the voyeuristic-naughtynaughty-whatever sex appeal of the places, but it's not like any of them are original. Road head might be fun for the recipient, but it would be one hell of a distraction from the road and it can't be the most comfortable position for the person giving oral sex. I assume you're not crouching by the pedals - that would, among other things, be stupidly dangerous - so presumably you're leaning across from the front passenger seat, taking care to avoid the gearstick, and that position can't be good for your back.
  1. Send a message in a bottle.
  2. Shower in a waterfall.
With regard to the first one, what's stopping you? Just get a bottle with a lid, come up with a message, and next time you're at sea throw the bottle into the ocean. Showering in a waterfall does sound genuinely fun, providing the weather is warm.
  1. Throw an evening party.
I've done this. Perhaps he means something more than just umpteen students turning up at a house or flat, getting drunk and possibly heading to a club, but in any case this hardly seems like something out of the ordinary.

  1. Sleep a night in a snow fort I built.
I've slept rough twice (once for charity, once because I was stranded) and I'd really prefer a nice comfortable bed, thank you very much.
  1. Fly a kite (again).
  2. Swim across a large lake, unassisted.
  3. Be able to locate 10 constellations in the sky.
  4. Flatten coins on a train track.
I really don't see the point of the last one, but otherwise these seem like small, achievable things that are at least worth trying.
  1. Live in my own apartment.
Better suggestion: Earn enough to be able to afford to live in my own apartment. Although even then I'm not certain I'd want to, it's nice having people around who you can talk to.
  1. Ride a mechanical bull.
  2. Ride a rollercoaster (again).
No interest in the first. If I were at a theme park then I would go on a rollercoaster again, but I don't see this happening until I have kids. Speaking of which:
  1. Attend a human birth.
I'd want to be there for my own childrens' births. Otherwise, I can think of better ways of spending my time.
  1. Visit an asylum.
  2. Write a letter to the editor.
  3. Write a letter to the editor that hasn't to do with yourself
Scratch that first, the internet will do fine. And letters to the editors of print media are being rendered obselete by online media and comments sections. Perhaps replace these with "Have a top-rated comment on an article at a major site discussing a major issue."
  1. Sleep with a person I love
  2. Have a kissing marathon with someone I love.
Replace "a person I love" with "my wife" and you're on.
  1. Make my own choreography of a dance.
  2. Dance it on-stage.
I've done the first and would like the second, although perhaps on-stage should be replaced with "at an actual ceilidh".
  1. Achieve spiritual freedom.
What does this even mean?
  1. Reach a mountain top (a high mountain).
Define "high". I've climbed several mountains, the highest of which was probably Snowdon. I suppose climbing one of the really high mountains (i.e. several thousand metres) might be fun and would be pretty satisfying, but if it took significant amounts of money and time then I could probably find better things to do with both.
  1. having sexual intercourse for the first time.
  2. Really love somebody
  3. Fall in love again and again.
  4. have sexual intercourse with a man.
  5. Make somebody fall in love with me.
  6. Have a woman say that she loves me
Having sex only once in your life doesn't really sound any better than dying a virgin in my opinion. Certainly, I'd rather die a virgin having made a decision to abstain from sex than have a series of meaningless one-night stands and ultimately fail to achieve romantic fulfilment. Falling in love sounds nice, provided it is a) reciprocated and b) with the kind of person with whom I would want to fall in love. If I had looser sexual mores, then perhaps I would be interested in seeing what it's like to have sex with another man. Falling in love for the sake of falling in love seems remarkably shallow, though. I'm also concerned about this "make somebody fall in love with me". As much as it would be a pleasant ego-boost if someone were to fall in love with me, there are really only two possible endings there: either the two of us end up romantically attached, in which case this description seems severely lacking in detail, or the other person ends up being emotionally hurt to some extent. I don't want them hurt, and the idea that I am somehow "making" them fall in love with me makes it sound like I've leading them on.
  1. Be exactly where you want to be, with whom you want to be, how you want it to be, etc. at least once in my life.
  2. Be exactly where you want to be, with whom you want to be, how you want it to be, etc. at least once in my life, and knowing everything is all right.
  3. Feeling one with the universe, and knowing life is great.
These seem to vague to be of any use. How exactly would you plan to accomplish these?
  1. Talking to a director I admire
Replace director with musical performer, author, philosopher, economist, composer, etc...
  1. Reciting my own poems before a public audience
If I were any good at writing poetry, then yes this would be a worthwhile achievement. Unfortunately, the only way I can see this happening is through some kind of "ordinary people's poetry reading day" thing in which the victims audience would have to sit through hour after unending hour of utter dross.
  1. Going on a long road trip with friends and enough money, without a specific destination.
I could do this, provided we had planned the trip so as to have plenty of interesting places we could visit. Meandering through northern Italy and southern France yes, wandering aimlessly around the Australian outback no.
  1. Run in competition for at least 10km.
I've run 5km in competition twice before, does that count? (Bear in mind I was about 9 at the time). And actually, I'm running a 10k race in May so this is a Thing To Do which will soon be under my belt.
  1. Having sexual intercourse with two women at one time.
My suspicion is that diminishing marginal returns set in pretty quickly with regard to sex partners. I only have one penis, after all.
  1. Run my own household.
If this means "raise a family" then my response is DUH. Of course I want to raise children. If it means "run a house by myself" then my response is AARGH THE INEFFICIENCY.
  1. Play tennis in a competition.
Specifically tennis? I've played in numerous chess and football tournaments, so do they count? That said, I have entertained the idea of taking up tennis at some point, it's a fun sport and I am merely mediocre at it (as opposed to remedial).
  1. Being in love with somebody who actually loves me, and knowing it, and living it.
Haven't we already had this?
  1. Spontaneously sing a "personal" song for somebody I love.
How spontaneous do you want? I've written music for specific people, and I suppose this would work as a Valentine's Day type thing. That said, I wouldn't put it as something to do before I die.
  1. Work on a filmset by someone I admire in one of the lowest jobs, without the people knowing it.
  2. Have some of my film-articles published.
Again, I have little interest in films.
  1. Discover the meaning of life.
You seem to assume that there is one and that it is discoverable by human reason. Also, if you were serious about this then you'd presumably devote your life to philosophical study instead of spending 20,000 hours watching films.
  1. Watch films I love more often with people I love.
This is enjoyable, but in general I would tend to see this as a "neither of us is busy, let's have a relaxing evening" kind of thing rather than a lifetime-highlight kind of thing.
  1. Lose the fear of death.
  2. Look forward to my own death.
  3. Risk my life (more often).
I've done the first. It's not difficult. On the other hand, I would rather put it off and achieve more on earth before I do actually die, and cultivating a habit of risking one's life is just stupid. Perhaps a better idea would be "be willing to risk or sacrifice my life for a good cause."
  1. Develop a greater awareness of my body.
  2. Train to get an athletic figure (with a six pack).
I'm quite happy with my body as it is, thank you very much. I could go to the gym, or I could improve my mind. Even better, I could go on a run while listening to an audiobook or podcast and so improve both my mind and body.
  1. Be more honest.
I would definitely be interested in trying out Radical Honesty. Whether or not it would be a good idea is another question entirely.
  1. Shave my head because of a spiritual need.
No. I like my hair, and shaving it will not make me the slightest bit more spiritual. Fool!
  1. Tell people I Love them, when I feel like it.
I wish I could do this. Unfortunately, telling people you love them isn't very British and this is the memeplex into which I happen to have been born.
  1. Attend a concert by Prince.
  2. Attend a concert by Aimee Mann.
  3. Attend a concert by Jude.
  4. Attend a concert by Julie Delpy.
Change the artists. Unfortunately Johnny Cash died more than a decade ago; I've already seen Half Man Half Biscuit; Muse are hideously expensive to see live...
  1. Go to a concert of an artist you love, with someone you love.
Entails finding a romantic partner. This is something of a failure mode for me with regard to this list.
  1. Work independently in something I love and be able to live from it.
Next best: become a professor of philosophy!
  1. Go hitch-hiking into the unknown with only a backpack, and little money (and maybe a friend).
I don't know about "the unknown". I'm not going hiking in the jungles of South America, and while I intend to go backpacking across Europe at some point I wouldn't really call that "the unknown".
  1. See my first big love again (and talk to her).
Entails finding and losing a romantic partner. Even more of a failure mode.
  1. Have my own laptop.
What do you think I'm typing this on?
  1. Make my own movie.
Haven't we already had this one?

To be continued... possibly.

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