Monday, July 11, 2016

Once in a Lifetime

I'm in the throes of middle age and carefully constructing and rearranging my Bucket List of those things I'd like to do before I die.  I've had an epiphany of sorts which has made this process fairly simple.  If I get to any of the things on my Bucket List...AWESOME!  If not, no big deal.  The pressure has been lifted from this idea that I might not have gotten everything out of this life if I don't do these things I've always wanted to do.  I can thank Arnold Schwarzenegger and Matt Smith for helping me out here.

My bucket list consists of things I've never done.  I may not even like some of them.  Take this one for example...visiting the Swiss Alps.  Sure, every single human that has ever been there has loved it.  Yes, all of the pictures are stunning and I know how pictures never do the landscape justice.  But what if I get there and find it a waste of time and money?  It's possible.  What if I don't like the people or the shnitzel (or whatever it is they eat there)?  What if I never get to see the Alps with my two eyes or ever get to ski with the Matterhorn looming over me?  I'm okay with that.

Let me tell you how Arnold Schwarzenegger and Matt Smith helped me out here.  Arnold is said to have made this humorous quote which I love:
"Money doesn't make you happy.  I now have $50 million but I was just as happy when I had $48 million."
Now after enjoying that statement at face value, I thought about it logically and concluded that for someone who has $48,000,000, another $2,000,000 isn't that significant.  If I take my wife out to dinner at a decent restaurant, it's not going to be a big deal to me if the bill ends up being $50 if I had originally thought it might be $48.  In it's simplest form, we are talking about the difference between 24 and 25...a difference of one.  Hardly anything to get all that excited about, right?

Enter Matt Smith.  If you are wondering who he is, he's a guy I met in Aspen while I was on a ski trip there in February.  Matt was encouraging me to hike and ski the legendary Highland Bowl, though I wasn't sure I was up for the challenge.  The Highland Bowl was on my bucket list of places I wanted to ski, but there is no lift to the top of this peak which means you have to hike from elevation 11,700 (feet above sea level) all the way to 12,400.  I had earlier in the week hiked to the top of a mountain and was amazed how much it took out of me, and that was only climbing from 11,200 to 11,350.  So I was worried about carrying skis up a narrow ridge and how I might waste half of my day struggling to get to the top and then be so tired that I wouldn't enjoy the trip down.

Hiking the Highland Bowl

Matt's final pitch to me was "you know, this could be a once in a lifetime experience for you."  When he said that, my initial reaction was "He's right...I've got to seize this opportunity to do something I've always wanted to do."  But then something struck me about doing something that would be once in a lifetime....just once...only is not that much different from zero.  It's the same difference as 24 from 25.  Sure, the jump from 0 to 1 is pretty dramatic (unless we are talking about having kids and then it's the jump from 1 to 2).  But still, it's only one more than where I've been my whole entire happy life.  I decided not to hike the bowl, being content with where I was and not giving in to the pressure of checking off something that was on my bucket list, even if that really was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I let pass by.  Maybe next time...maybe not.

I'll be okay.  My wife will still love me.  My kids will still love me.  My parents will still love me and say they are proud of me.  Thankfully, those things aren't once in a lifetime events.