Many people have a “Bucket List” – a list of things they want to do or accomplish before they die. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that – there are things I want to get done before I go, too. First and foremost, I want to live to be 100 years old.

I have a different perspective. There are certain things I do NOT want to do before I die, and I have a good reason (in my opinion) for for not wanting to do them. The fact is that I don’t want to do them precisely because they might actually kill me.

Let me explain my thought process, here…

Let’s say that there are Four things that I would like to do:

  1. Be swallowed whole by a whale, excavate my way through the entire length of his body using only a tooth brush, when I get to the very tip of his tail, make a small incision (excision?), let myself out, swim to the surface and back to shore – all on one breath. 
  2. Stow away in the wheel well of the Space shuttle just before the final lift off, wearing only my socks and a parachute and carrying only a screw driver, a harmonica and a roll of duct tape, wait until half way through the 27th orbit around the Earth, use the screw driver to open the wheel well, drop out and sky dive back to Earth playing “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round The Mountain When She Comes” – all on one breath.
  3. Hike up Half Dome 11 times. All on one breath.
  4. Survive long enough to get all three done.

Here’s the rub… If I attempt any of these things I could die in the process. If I die in the process of accomplishing any of these things, I would be prevented from accomplishing the other three things on the list. Hence, I would fail to accomplish at least two of my goals. 

I know what you’re thinking, here: “Well, what if you don’t actually die until you attempt thing #3? You would still have met two of your goals.” 

An almost valid point you have there. The problem is that goal #4 would not have been met. That fact alone makes your point almost valid, but not completely valid. Aside from that, “Seriously?”. 

There are many things I don’t want to do in my life (for the reason listed a couple of paragraphs north of here). In fact, I add to my list daily, and it won’t be very long before that list is infinitely long.  

The problem is that I only have so much time to not do each of these things, and if my primary goal of living to be 100 years old is met, I only have another 39 years to squeeze in all of that non-accomplishment. 

And that’s only half of my dilemma!

Here’s the other half…

If I put too much emphasis on  not doing the things that I don’t want to do, I won’t have time to do the things I DO want to do!

I have come to the point in my life where, if I am ever not going to do some of this stuff, I had better hurry up and not do it now, before it’s too late and it’s done before I know it. 

As an illustration of the types of things that I am currently working my butt off not to do, I am including this video presentation.

* Disclaimer: While there are some things in here that I might possibly try, anything that involves snow, water, sky, cliffs, bicycles, speeding cars, rails of any sort; or anything that would take my feet off the ground, turn me upside down, inside out or does not involve a basketball hoop is out of the question. So don’t ask.

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Starting Off On The Right Foot

…During my 13 weeks in bootcamp, I learned such rudimentary life skills as how to fold my underwear, how to guard a clothesline and (for our purposes, here) how to start walking in the correct manner.

Not that I didn’t learn anything else – I did. For one thing, I had a lot of instruction in Language skills, which I never really put to the intended use, but if I ever need them I have them right here in the back of my mind.

For these, and other lessons, I wish to thank my company commander, William F. Pospissil, BM1, USN.

You can imagine my mother’s surprise when, upon my return from San Diego, I not only explained that she had been folding my underwear errantly for the entire previous 19 years of my life, but provided her an educational and exacting demonstration of the proper way of doing so.

Unfortunately, we had no clothesline (or rifle) with which to provide proper instruction, so I was forced to forego that favor. 

Additionally, I figured she had already been walking incorrectly for 40 years and it was probably too late to help her with that, so I let that one go, too.

And I sure as hell didn’t try to help her with her language skills…

So why am I telling you all this? So that I can pick up where I left off on the right foot. 

“…And so we did…”

With all the confidence I gained in boot camp  (in my ability to begin a journey correctly), I lifted my leg, extended it forward about 2 feet, pushed off with my opposing foot and, in true military fashion, started the hike that would change my life forever…

Left foot first…

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If you think you can stomach it, you can click here to go to the beginning…

Click here to go to the next episode…

We Begin.. Sort Of

…This whole adventure started sometime early in the Year of My Kidneys, 2011, with a discussion among several family members… Specifically, the ones who regularly do the Half Dome hike at least once a year…

More specifically, the ones who aren’t me (Man of Action)…

Not that I haven’t done the hike before – I have – twice since 2005. Both during the daylight hours (at least in the middle of the hike).

The thing that made this particular chapter of “Hey! Let’s do Half Dome!” particularly attractive (to Man of Action, at least) was the part about “And let’s do it at night by the full moon!”

(One must keep in mind that some of them had done the “full moon” version of the trek before. Man of Action, however, was not among that particular group.)

Always ready to keep up with the younger set (and encouraged by the fact that Donna – a couple of years older than me – had done the hike a total of eight (8) more times than I have), Man of Action eagerly accepted the invitation to, once again, put my life on the line and, this time, do it at night… When nobody could see how stupid I was…

Jump ahead, now, several months… (Begin “jumping ahead” transitional music…)

It has now been several months since the house burned down, taking with it 

  • 9 guitars
  • 3 amplifiers
  • gobs of recording equipment
  • 1 grand piano
  • Tons of other stuff including
    • 2 bicycles
    • 1 home gym
    • 1 elliptical trainer
    • 1 pair of hiking boots (downhill persuasion)
    • various weights and other exercise equipment
    • Loads of camping equipment

And making unavailable

  • All of our hiking gear

Plus the fact that we were extremely heavily involved with

  • contractors
  • architects 
  • county building permit departments 
  • tax assessors 
  • suicide counselors

And keeping in mind that, for the previous trips, Man of Action

  • worked up to it way ahead of time – like for 18 months ahead of time…

Add all that together and you come up with a grand total of approximately zero (0) time to train and get ready for the beast…

So, what does Man of Action do to prepare?

6 weeks prior to the big day he decides it might be a good idea to drop a few pounds.

So He did. About 20 of them.

And how did I do it?

Diet. Exercise. Stupidity…

Sadly, emphasis heavily on “Diet and Stupidity” and not enough on “Exercise”.

But Man of Action drank a lot of water – that has to mean something, doesn’t it?

Insert another jump in time here… About 6 weeks worth of the stuff…

July 14, in the Year of My Kidneys, 2011… 11:59 PM… 31 minutes before we embark on the great adventure…

The group, Donna, Shawn, Megan, Brian, Lauren, Nicole and MOA, gather outside the camp site, on the road to Happy Isles – the trail head.

It’s dark, except for the light of the full moon, sort of… Sort of, because it’s also cloudy.

We think we’re ready to go, but we’re not. That’s because Brian informs the group that Lauren may not be able to go because her bladder is leaking..

This raises a concern because there aren’t a lot of restrooms on the 8.5 mile climb to the top of Half Dome.

Happily, though, Lauren makes it clear that Brian is referring to her ‘water’ bladder and not to any physiological parts.

There is still some concern, however, because before joining the group, Brian and Lauren have discussed the matter, and Brian has – somewhat emphatically – stated his belief that nobody in his right mind carries an extra bladder.

“I have an extra bladder, if you want to use it,” says Man of Action.

Brian displays a face covered with egg and not a small amount of shock. Lauren, on the other hand, has the face of an angel that says “Without using my hands, I thumb my nose at you, Brian,” and then continues verbally, “I like your hat, Bill. And I would be happy to use your extra bladder”.

To which MOA gallantly responds, “I have cleaned and disinfected it, so you need not worry about becoming 60 years old before the end of the hike.”

Another 20 minutes to locate, fill and insert it into her backpack, and we were ready to embark…

trailhead

At the trailhead. Left to Right: Man of Action, Donna, Nicole, Shawn, Megan, Lauren, Brian. Flash photography is good.

And so we did…

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If you think you can stomach it, you can click here to go to the beginning…
Click here to go to the next verse…