It seems that I am starting to come to grips with my own mortality.
That’s what seems to happen when you start approaching certain ages.
For me, it has probably been the realization that I am going to be 50 years old in just a few short years. How did that happen? It seems like five minutes ago I turned 21 and had the whole world ahead of me.
Those days are long gone, and it seems like the more I try to stretch the days and delay the inevitable, the faster the pages on the calendar seem to turn.
While turning 50 isn’t right around the corner for me, it is close enough that I can see it just beyond the horizon. It is both frightening and stunning.
Of course, with people living longer thanks to fantastic medical advances, 50 isn’t as near to the end as it used to be, but at 6 feet 5 inches tall, I also realize I don’t see many octogenarians running around at my height.
So, with the onset of my 50s just a little more than four years away, I have decided to make a “pail list.” A pail being smaller than a bucket, I feel like this is a good chance for me to make sure the end of my 40s are productive, memorable and worthwhile.
I have created five items for this list, and I will strive to achieve each of them.
1. Take a spontaneous weekend road trip.
If there’s one thing you need to about why this one will be a challenge, it is this: Mrs. Hanson isn’t the type to do spontaneous.
My personal rules for this are that I need to get home from work on a Friday, pack for three days away and leave the house within an hour with no plan.
It will be hard to convince my wife of the feasibility or viability of this plan, but it is something that I believe will be memorable. I have discussed this idea and she seemed lukewarm about it, but I am working on breaking down her resistance.
2. Write a book.
I know how cliché that sounds: Journalist writes a book. I have heard it said that everybody has one good book in them.
I know I have spent years batting around ideas in my head, but it seems like I can never find one to stick.
A few years ago, I had what I thought was a pretty good idea for a book, but that project got derailed when I started my weight-loss journey, and that started consuming much of my thoughts and energy.
That idea for my first book has also become passé because of events in the intervening years.
3. Do a marathon.
This has been on my list since I completed my first half-marathon last year. Actually, the idea went from “That’s just crazy” to “Maybe I should give it a try” a few weeks before that first half-marathon.
I am signed up for the Lakefront Marathon on Oct. 2 and I am in training for it, but between the heat this summer and personal commitments, I have not exactly been on-point with my training. In addition, I guess I didn’t realize just how bored and inside my head I can get when my mileage gets into the double digits.
In the last couple weeks, I have rededicated myself to my training and I am trying to make up for lost time, but there is a certain amount of fear, anxiety and frustration I am going through at this point.
4. Pull an all-day stint at the Wisconsin State Fair.
I have slowly grown to love the Wisconsin State Fair over the past few years and I have some ambitious ideas for how to enjoy it better.
However, when there are other people with you, it can be difficult to break off and just do what you want to do. As kind of a loner, I really am getting excited at the idea of doing State Fair by myself.
The rules for this would simply be: I arrive when gates open, I stay until they close and I experience everything I can cram into that time, including animals, food, rides, music, the “as seen on TV pavilion” and the wild animals.
5. Do a stand-up comedy routine.
Sitting in my email is a list of about a dozen jokes I have saved up over the years. It should be enough for a five-minute “set.”
Despite being kind of awkward in one-on-one or small group situations, I don’t have any qualms about speaking in front of large groups. I just need to find an open mic night somewhere and hopefully, I could make a few people laugh.
Besides, if I do complete all of the items on this list, it gives me five more ideas for columns in this space.