"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bucket List Tag: a Rant

I got tagged to list three things I must do before I "kick the bucket."
1) Find the antidote.
2) Track down who poisoned me.
3) Make him explain why I'm in a bad movie.

I really hate the whole idea of a bucket list; all it does is fill one with regret of what one's missed and anxiety over how little time there is to accomplish things. It's a symptom of what I hate about modern society. Life is not a series of experiences to be collected and put in a scrapbook!

I hate the "Auntie Mame" types who claim "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." You put your fingers in 50 dishes to sample them and they have to be thrown out while you purr about how exquisite life is; people are starving because you act that way.

I hate the tourists who are the Wal-Mart of culture: go in, take over, change everything, complain that nothing's the same, abandon it for the next area to despoil. Every fishing village becomes a run-down resort with no economy.

You go to Paris, you go to the Louvre, you stand in line for two hours to see the Mona Lisa and you complain because they won't let you take a photo to prove you were there; you haven't experienced anything, you've overlooked a million masterpieces, you've overlooked all but one building in a magnificent city and you're on your plane headed to Rome to do the same thing... but you can tell people, "Why, yes, I've been to Paris!"

The most common thing on Bucket Lists is "run a marathon." If you've run one, then you want to do a triathlon (then the Hawaii Ironman) or you want to run the Boston Marathon. I "did Boston" when I was 21, had to run 2:50 to qualify and didn't know better; it's an ugly course held in bad weather and everyone's out to make a year's profit that weekend - the restaurants are crowded, the hotels require a week's stay and the streets are littered with people selling souvenirs to "prove you were there." It's true of all marathons; someone told me last year that they spent $1000 to run Grandma's Marathon last year!

If you're going to be a lemming, keep running until you run into the water and drown!

People who behave this way are continuously bored. These "experience junkies" end relationships when they stop getting anything new from them. They change jobs like they change hairstyles. They flit through life, dilletantes to the end, never fully experiencing anything, never valuing what they have, never resting in their quest to devour everything within their grasp.

As the Buddha said, it's the desire for things that makes us unhappy. Here's something that makes me happy (hey, that was the last tag)!


Anonymous said...

Beautiful and inspiring entry.

My life changed for the better when I ceased watching tv, and stopped reading newspapers/magazines.

Now if I could only stop reading running blogs...

Julie said...

Hi Steve,
I think you are one smart cookie:) Great list and you bring to the table some very interesting thoughts. I agree with Anonymous...now if I could only stop reading blogs. Steve I think I am addicted...is that bad?

I hope that you enjoy the rest of your weekend:)

joyRuN said...

The thing that truly sucks about collecting accomplishments is the "now what" afterwards. And at the end of the day, those accomplishments don't amount to a whole hill of beans except as an anecdotal "once upon a time..."

Anonymous said...

I've come around to your way of thinking, lately, but didn't really know how to express it. Thank you.

Jean said...

Excellent post, Steve. Quite thought provoking for me.

And wow, I remember that episode of The Jetson's! I loved those old Hanna-Barbera cartoons. They don't make 'em like that anymore.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy I loved waking up to Hana-Barbera cartoons, particularly the Jetson's. The space version of the brady bunch.

Great thoughts Steve. You da man!

Louvre is is an unfortunate tourist hole. Besides, since Post WWII, the best art galleries are in North America, particularly Chicago.
Now for some really fun art. I love this site: http://beinart.org/

People who pay a fee, stand in a long line and a fake picture at the Sears Tower, when they could instead go up to the Hancock just down the street for free, no gimmicks, order a drink next to a window and enjoy the fireworks off of Navy Pier.


Londell said...

Classic Jetsons... thanks for the memory!

Helen said...

ah this is great stuff. can't imagine why anyone would ever want to poison you.

olga said...

I have to say I liked this post and this view take.

Beth said...

Nice post. People look to special experiences to "spice up" their lives, when maybe they should invest in the day-to-day relationships that make up 99% of living. Makes a lot more sense than paying $1K to run Grandma's.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, Steve. However, I think it's a bit presumptuous to say that we know what makes others happy. Happiness is very individual.

SteveQ said...

Anonymous #4: I never said that such people weren't happy, though I guess I did say that they were bored. And obviously, as I'm ranting, I'm a little happiness-impaired.

Anonymous said...

From Anonymous #4: I stand corrected....I was being a bit presumptuous myself :)

Anonymous said...

I have a slightly different view of bucket lists...primarily, why would anybody care about another person's list or desire to have a list?

Boston is an interesting example. You diminish the experience, but you did it yourself. It is a silly bucket list item now, but is something you did. I bet it wasn't a silly bucket item the day before you did it. I also did Boston once, and never planned to do it again, so it was a bucket item for me. I don't regret that one bit. The experience has led to many wonderful conversations with people I may not have conversed with otherwise. It has allowed me to help several people plan their bucket trip to Boston. And most importantly, I will always have the memory of the biker bar early in the race with hundreds of drunk bikers drinking outside and cheering us like mad.

The Grandma's example is another one I'll debate. Spending $1000 on Grandma's is no crime. A large percentage of the world would cringe at how much you (and the rest of us) spend on race entries per year. It's all relative. I spend a lot of money at Grandma's every year because it makes the experience enjoyable. Some people have the money to spend for enjoyment. Some have the money but don't want to spend it. Even more people don't have the money to spend, but spend it anyway:) To each their own, it's not fair to judge people by how they spend their leisure time and money is it?

Just another point of view...carry on.


SteveQ said...

AH: First of all, this was a rant and not a well-thought out argument.

Second, when I did Boston, it was not something I did so that I could tell people I did it. And I had a bad day (I got hit by a bicycle at 16 miles), so my memories are influenced by that; I do recall favorably the girls of Wellesley cheering everyone - that was special.

Third, you don't know what I spend on races. For example, when I do Grandma's or the Superior Trail races, I drive up the morning of the race to save on costs and I have had complimentary entries (though not at G'mas).

Fourth, I don't have a problem with people spending a fortune at races, whether they have the money or not. It is the motivation I was concerned about. Having the goal to finish a marathon is a great thing - but not if one's doing it just to boast that they did it.

Fifth, I finally figured out who you are (I was a little slow - those initials in that city and I tend to think of a well-known runner of opposite gender) and I'd like someday to reproduce an accomplishment for which you're well-known... but it won't make the papers.