“The Bucket List” is a film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. I saw it several months ago and it just seems like the most relevant idea to me today.
Edward Cole (Nicholson) and Carter Chambers (Freeman) are terminal cancer patients with six months to live. They meet when they become roommates in the cancer ward. Cole is a multi-millionaire; Chambers is an auto mechanic with an amazing mind for trivia.
The bucket list is a writing exercise from Chamber’s college days. It contains a list of things that one wants to do before one dies. In a fit of depression after being told that the experimental treatments failed, he throws it on the floor and falls asleep. Cole picks it up and the adventure begins. They agree to draw up a common list and do all sorts of things. After checking out of the hospital, with Cole footing all the bills, they go sky-diving, car racing, they travel the world, gaze at the Egyptian pyramids, live in an Italian villa and go on to visit the Himalayas.
I’m not dying. I’m not even ill. But it was my birthday yesterday. I have lived more than half my life and I think about all the things I still want to do before the second half is over. So, I made my own bucket list.
Places I want to see:
1. China. With my love for Chinese food, visiting China would be like a journey to the source. I want to savor the smell of the Chinese markets, the street food… I want to see how the cooking is done on the grassroots level rather than through the eyes of cooking host shows and cookbook authors.
2. Egypt. No doubt that the pyramids are a tourist attraction. What I want to know is what it feels like to stand at the foot or inside one of those structures. Will I feel like an insignificant speck in human history? Will I feel proud to belong to the specie that built all that? Will I shudder at how man celebrates their grandeur when they were built with back-breaking slave labor?
3. The Italian countryside. Again, this has more to do with food than anything else. The cities don’t interest me much. Shopping in Milan or dining in Rome might sound like the perfect holiday for some but what I want to experience is real Italian peasant cooking. The kind that seems to emanate from the very earth from which the cooks pluck the vegetables and fruits and where the goats and cows graze so they can produce the milk from which all those wonderful cheeses will be lovingly made.
4. Melanesia and Polynesia. When one of your earliest musical experiences is Rogers’ and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” and then you go on to read James A. Michener’s “Tales of the South Pacific” when you’re a little older, something in you is permanently captivated. I still can’t shake the romance, the feistiness and the mysticism out of my system after all these years.
Things I want to do:
1. Publish a book or two. Or three or four. One or two on food. And another with a collection of what I consider to be my most unorthodox essays. And, finally, a book of stories for children.
2. Drive a Formula One car. Speed can be described and written about from a literary context or from a scientific and mathematical context. I want to feel it. When I was in college, I used to drive with the car windows open because I found the wind on my face and blowing through my hair exhilarating. I wonder how the wind would feel like while driving a Formula One car.
3. Fly a plane. Just to feel what it’s like to operate a vehicle without bumper to bumper traffic. The view from up there would be 10 times better too.
4. Learn how to ride a bike.
5. Conquer my fear of small enclosed spaces.
6. Find out the truth about mind control, telekinesis and pyrokinesis. If they can be done, I want to learn. What for is my business and mine alone.
Things I’d like to photograph:
1. Sunrise in Bora Bora.
2. A butterfly coming out of its cocoon.
3. A hatchling breaking out of its shell.
4. Lightning against a pitch black sky.
5. A policeman accepting tong.
6. A politician accepting a bribe.
People I’d like to have a long lunch with:
1. F. Sionil Jose. He will forever be my favorite Filipino author. Discussing the Rosales Saga with the author would be a swell way to spend an entire afternoon.
2. Oprah Winfrey. I want to know what makes her tick. And I want to know if she is as articulate without the benefit of research done by her staff.
3. The Pope. There are a lot of things I want to ask him and I want to be able to look into his eyes when he answers. Like what? Oh, like whether he doesn’t find it ironic that he lives in a palace while the world starves.
4. A serial killer. It would be interesting to delve into a cold calculating mind that can plan and execute killings without qualms and remorse.
List too long? I’m not that old. In fact, there’s this feeling that the best is yet to happen during the second half of my life. I have time.
I have time.