(no offense to bucket list fanatics, but bucket lists make me feel anxious and inadequate. And do I really need to take a cheese-making class or jump from an airplane for my life to be complete?)**
I’m old enough now to where some things will always be on my perpetual list of resolutions: live in the moment, spend more time with family, stay active, don’t wear pajamas all day, not sweat the small stuff, etc. They are things that I remind myself to do or think on a daily basis and are never checked off a list. In place of yearly resolutions is a small checklist of big picture Life goals that truly started a few years back when we decided we were both in it for the long haul. When making a big decision, when I feel envious of other peoples’ lives, when I feel like I don’t know what the hell I’m doing with my life — this list keeps me grounded and is always in the back of my mind.
1. Live closer to family
Progress: Moving away from SF, as hard as that was, was the first step that we took in achieving our big-picture dreams. Most everyone in SF (including us) were transients — transplants from somewhere else, and while we could imagine raising a family there we didn’t want to raise a family that only got to see their grandparents/uncles/aunts/cousins but once a year, if that. DC was kind of a middle ground — my sister lives here and Sly’s brother lives here. We also live (long) road-trip distance to my family in Michigan and Sly’s family in Atlanta. Ultimately it would be awesome if everyone lived in the same place at the same time…some day…
2. Simplify our lives
Progress: When we started to think of our future together and really started thinking about the life we wanted, we realized that as much as we loved SF, our goal in life was not to spend every cell of energy to live there and keep up with the SF lifestyle. Over time we subconsciously started caring about things we never truly cared about/wanted only because the people around us cared about them so much. We both dreamed of a simpler life, and for us that meant taking a pay cut, changing jobs, getting rid of a lot of crap, and moving away from the goldrush mentality. We could have probably done the same thing without moving to the opposite side of the country but at the time we knew we wanted to change our lives and moving was a bit like crossing the rubicon for us. Clean home, clean minds. Getting back to the basics. Eating clean food. Enjoying the moment, each other, the time we have, not getting bogged down by things that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. “Simplifying” is such a catch-phrase these days. The concept itself is, well, simple, but in practice it is probably the hardest goal to achieve. Making time for each other, leaving work at work, enjoying time at home, enjoying the simple things, de-cluttering, making a daily conscious effort to not hoard everything I touch — it’s something we have to constantly work at.
3. Live abroad together
Progress: We have both lived abroad individually, but we would love to experience life in another country together for a couple years. One of the most surprising side effects of moving away from SF was that I felt somehow “free” now — to do anything, go anywhere. And as cliche as it sounds closing one door (a very big, heavy door) opened a door into a new world of possibilities. I was reminded of my original plan, the one made as a teenager, the one I made again when I took the first huge step to move away from Texas: live abroad. We have come so very close to moving overseas — it didn’t work out in the end — but without having this life goal lingering somewhere in goal-land, I don’t think we would have ever entertained the possibility in the first place.
4. Buy a piece of land, build a cabin (aka build our dream home)
Progress: Oddly enough, this has kind of been the foundation of our relationship — our shared dream of living off the grid is how we originally connected. When we decided to buy a house out here we bought something well within our means so that we could start what we call our “cabin fund” and purchase a tiny piece of land and build a tiny little cabin on it. We are still looking for the right piece of land, but the point is we have started looking.
5. See as much as the world as we can (bonus points if it’s by RV/trailer/camping)
Progress: We don’t necessarily have some bucket list of “Places to see before we die.” We see this goal more as having an adventurous approach towards life and taking whatever chance we have to explore — big cities, little cities, broke-down cities, the great outdoors, our backyard, wherever. Ultimately this is our end-goal. Financial freedom. Simplicity of life (this is assuming that by the time we get to this phase I have given up my shoe obsession). We are currently on the hunt for a tiny trailer.
That’s really *all* we have on the list for now. It’s small enough to not be too overwhelming, but big enough that when we do feel overwhelmed by everyday life we can look at our big picture goals and realize that not much else matters.
**Although I have swam with Great White Sharks (check) and bungee jumped off a bridge (check)…