I come from a small town. Few cars passed through it. When people hear “New Jersey” they tend to think of the turnpike and smoke stacks but my part of the state was all farms and forests growing up. This sounds ideal for parents but as a kid it got pretty boring. (These were the days before Atari even!)
So we were forced to use our imagination. My best friend, Meghan, and I used to play in the forest next to our houses for hours and the only warning our parents gave us was, “Don’t run with sticks.”
We would climb up the hill leading to the trees, but it wasn’t really a hill it was a monster ready to chase us! So we’d scramble up the
dead tree pirate ship and slosh through the raging river my parents referred to as the creek. Sometimes we would just walk for hours during the summer. It was our goal to make it to the open field on the way to Quaker Bridge Mall.
“Daddy, can we stop here?” Meghan always asked as we drove past the field. “Why?” he’d ask. “So we can play.” “What would you play?” “We would run, and pretend we are airplanes, and do cartwheels.” “Maybe next time, honey.” It never came to pass.
My hometown is not so small anymore. I barely recognize it anymore. The cars whip by the road behind us; the forest was torn down so they could build condos named The Woods. I was 20 years old, home from college for Easter and pondering the gloomy side of progress with a different friend, Jill.
She asked me why I was sad. I told her about the field I always wanted to run though, how it now had a “For Sale” sign on it. “I guess I’ll never run through it now,” I sighed.
“Yes you will!” She had a look of spontaneous mischief in her eyes that was contagious. We got into her car and drove right onto the field. (This was at about ten o’ clock at night.) She kept the headlights and radio on. We jumped out of the car and ran through the field making airplanes with our arms and did cartwheels in the dirt. The moon was above us and the world seemed alive with possibilities.
It was the most exhilarating feeling of my life; to be able to dance in a field tonight knowing that tomorrow it would be destroyed. It made us think how quickly things can change and we made a pact to never let life pass us by. We came back to my house and wrote down all the things we wanted to accomplish with our lives. The first thing I wrote was, “Run through a field before it gets developed,” and had the joy of crossing it off my list. Some people call this a bucket list; my list is called my field of dreams.
Each year I make a point to read the list to see how I’ve progressed. Some things are noble, like #17 “Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity,” some things are common and sweet, like #6 “Have two kids,” and some things I’ll never tell anyone like #3 “Censored.” You’ll never guess, don’t try 😉
Of course some things that seemed very important at 20 have no relevance whatsoever to my life at 38. (Like direct the play, “Man and the Masses.”) But this list has led me to do things like “Climb a mountain” and “Keep in touch with my friends through the years.” Last year I was finally able to cross of “Get in Shape.” See? And it only took me 18 years to do it!
How about you? Do you have a bucket list?
P.S. – This post is part of a January Blogger Challenge.
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