I’ve flown over the Sahara, visited Italy, France, Germany, Spain, England, Nigeria, Bosnia, Serbia, the Netherlands, Greece, Turkey, Corsica, Malta, Mexico, Aruba, Canada. Hawaii, Alaska, and thirty eight other States.
I’ve danced until I dropped, I’ve been operated on seven times, have been in love a few times in my life and was only ever in one fist fight at age 11, and it ended in a draw.
I’ve been robbed of tens of thousands of dollars at least three times by unarmed men in suits that I trusted. I’ve almost been fired at least three times that I knew about, quit once, and retired once. (Hated retirement.)
I’ve ridden up the side of a mountain on the back of a mule, eaten Afghan food with my fingers, been chased by a goose, had arguments with generals, spent an evening with a Prince and Princess, eaten alligator meat, and chocolate covered ants, but not on the same day.
I’ve had pretty good food in some darn good restaurants, owned a few dozen cars, held both of my parents in my arms as they took their last breath and have literally lost my heart to my kids and grandkids.
I’ve had too much to drink a few times but never used recreational drugs, and love a cold beer on a hot day.
I’ve survived a violent automobile accident without serious injury, have had dozens of close calls, hit three deer, a garbage can and the pillars in my parking garage twice. In college I’ve smoked cigarettes, a pipe, and as a young teacher chewed snuff once and side chew but stopped immediately after I threw up both times.
I’ve seen and heard some of the best jazz and rock musicians who ever lived and even played backup trumpet for a few of them. I’ve directed bands, orchestras, jazz bands, combos, and even musicals.
I’ve lived. I’ve laughed, and I’ve loved. I’ve also cried, and I’ve mourned.
I’ve seen fire, and I’ve seen rain . . . James Taylor.
I’ve been employed in over a dozen jobs: railroader, glass factory worker, store clerk, and not so handyman, choir director, music teacher, trumpet instructor, arts manager, tourism executive, hospital administrator, research institute executive, healthcare consultant, and throughout all of that, I still feel like I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of living yet.
I’ve never jumped out of an airplane, never scratched a lion’s belly, never skied the Alps, have never seen the Pyramids or the Taj Mahal, and haven’t visited Norway, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, China, Antarctic, South Africa, Granada, Tahiti, Australia, Peru, or New Zealand.
I’ve never seen the Himalayas, don’t know anyone named Sven, and only saw St. Petersburg on the Travel Channel.
I’ve never drank mare’s milk or eaten mule cheese. I’ve never been to Mardi Gras or the Fantasy Fest in Key West. I’ve never seen Maui, Vancouver, or Tahiti, and I’m not really sure where St Barth is in the Caribbean.
As the future comes more into focus, I must admit that, although I’m not a rich guy, there are plenty of rich guy things on my bucket list and my bucket is getting closer to that proverbial kicking tee every year.
Yes, like everyone else my age, I have some physical challenges that could eventually be problematic, as in fatal, but right now I’m still ambulatory and inquisitive, interested and attentive.
The reality that I’m facing though isn’t one of additional personal stimulation through self-indulgence.
Rather, it is how many people can I help in how many ways before I’m no longer effective? So, the conundrum of “To see or not to see.” is not really my challenge.
My challenge is “To do and how long to keep doing it.” It’s my burden, but it’s also my legacy, and my personal reward.
Darn you, mom!