Thursday, December 08, 2005

Three more years of goals and dreams

Part 7 in my exploration of the Chicago smoking ban. To read more, scroll through the whole blog.

Every so often throughout life, I sit down and write a list of "goals and dreams." I used to think that putting them down on paper would somehow make them more concrete, that if I saw them in black and white I would be more likely to follow through. Plus, I'd think it would be wise to have a list of things I wanted to accomplish; otherwise, I'd just end up sitting around at some tavern watching the local news celebrating the tenth, then twentieth anniversary of the Bears winning the Super Bowl.

In reality, the only thing my list achieved was having one more notebook collecting dust on a shelf. I'd write the list and, as quickly as possible, forget about it. Then, I'd find it at a later date and get all sad. Here's a rather shameful excerpt from "My Goals + Dreams, 1997" list:

* Write a book of poetry, even if it sucks.
* Learn to dance.
* Grow vegetables in a garden.
* Become a vegetarian, or stop eating red meat.
* Live in Poland for a year.
* Start up a newspaper.
* Read a new book every two weeks.
* Learn to play guitar.
* Become a really good photographer.
* Climb Mt. Fuji.
* Travel across Europe.

There were more items on that list (but they're just too embarrassing to put here), plus details--for each item, I'd write what? why? and how? Like this:
What? Have 20/20 vision
Why? To ride rollercoasters without worry
How? Laser surgery for about $2,000 per eye

For some reason, I thought writing down an actual plan would help me achieve each goal. I look at that list today and have to shake my head. Out of twenty so-called goals and dreams of 1997, I accomplished exactly one so far: Always be a cat owner (Why? They never fail to make me happy How? Only live in places that allow pets). I can't even say that I've really climbed Mt. Fuji, at least not all the way to the top. When I climbed, my girlfriend got a case of altitude sickness. She kept going, probably knowing how much it meant to me (it was on my list after all!), but about 20 meters from the top she had to stop. The sun was just coming up, a few more minutes and we'd be there, but she was dry heaving so the only thing to do was take a quick picture (of the sun, not her) and head back down.

One out of twenty in eight years. I guess they weren't really realistic goals. Or maybe they just didn't mean all that much to me. Still, the most surprising thing to me about reviewing this list is just how quickly time has passed. I distinctly remember sitting in my tiny apartment in Japan compiling this list after receiving a letter from a good friend, a friend that has always been able to make me smile. I think I might have even sent her a copy of this list. As I said, embarrassing. Anyway, what's weird about remembering that day is that these things I wrote were somehow important to me. In a way, they still are. If I sat down to write that list today, I'd probably be very tempted to write down the very same items, even the embarrassing ones. Which is to say that not much has changed, that time has flown, that my body is getting older, but I, the real me, the personality, the fool inside this shell ... I have not changed, have not grown up. Sad, but at the same time exciting ... I'm still young, damn it!

Well, I've never been one to let experience teach me anything. So, today, in the early part of December (so you can't call it a list of New Year's resolutions), I set off to write a new list of twenty hopes and dreams. This time I'm making it public. This time I will achieve these because I will have an entire world wide web pushing me, helping me, laughing at me if I fail. The thing is, I could use some help writing this. What do you think I should try to accomplish in the next several years? Or, forget that, just tell me what your personal hopes and dreams are, and maybe I can just steal those ideas.

I think now is the perfect time to start this list. The way I see it is this: The Chicago smoking ban won't be in affect for three years; therefore, I must boycott the bars and set off to actually do something with my life.

Let me kick off the list with these items:

1. What? Meet Mayor Daley
Why? To shake the hand of the man who bulldozed an airport close to his home, but is expanding an airport that's already overcrowded and a major nuisance
How? Get box seat tickets for the White Sox next season

2. What? Become a professional blogger
Why? There are people that actually make money doing this!
How? Keep blogging and keep bugging everyone I know until they're convinced I'm a good enough writer to at least read every day and pass on this site to their friends, families, and enemies ... watch this thing grow, going from 10 readers a day to 25, get all excited and go on a three-day drinking binge, return to the computer to find that everyone has forgotten about me


Anonymous The mom said...

You can't do a Polka so cross off learning to dance. For you, it'll never happen. How about amassing a fortune? It'll make some of those dreams easier to attain. (after all, even box seat season tickets to the White Sox is gonna set you back a tidy sum - unless you meant to only go to ONE game!)

12:11 PM  
Anonymous jenska said...

There really should be some sort of outreach dance program in Chicago for the 1st generation Polish Americans...The Polish as a whole can really dance, but their American-born children haven't fared too well. The Polish men and women should have some sort of camp set up to pass on the grooves!

3:19 PM  
Anonymous kevin said...

Boycott the bars for three years?
I'd like to see you go three weeks.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Marley6 said...

aahh - lists. I like lists, lists are good! I think perhaps I should make a new list as well, someday I really will learn how to play that violin mocking me in the corner! Until then, I shall continue to yell at it in the five languages I wanted to learn, while traveling through Africa, on an elephant, and stomping out famine...

2:38 PM  
Blogger ap said...

Lists are a lot more fun when people add to them ...

6:04 PM  
Blogger JennyO. said...

You will meet your goals one day, because you're determined and capable to do so.

7:40 PM  

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