“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
Many of you are probably familiar with the concept of a "bucket list," a tally of all the things that you want to do and be and see before you die. In the hope that my dance with the bucket is a long way off, I've more optimistically dubbed mine a "life list." I've been keeping it since I was 15, with the goal of mesmerizing my future grandchildren with crazy tales of my bizarre and eventful life. Every time the road seems too narrow or my life feels circumscribed, I push all my energy towards achieving one of the items on the list. This year, I checked off "hug a panda," "learn to saber open a bottle of Champagne," and "eat ramen in Tokyo," not to mention some unintentional additions, like "get paid to write 50 trivia questions about Gilmore Girls" and "get made fun of by Brian Boitano."
My life list, like life itself, will never be completed, and that's OK. If anything, it gets longer every year, and every item checked off seems to grow three new ones, hydra-like, in its place. Some of the items are genuine life skills, some are idle fantasies, and probably far too many of them involve drinking the most delicious drinks possible. But though it may be silly, the list reminds me that the world is open, that some dreams can be small and attainable, that if you don't ask, you don't get. For a little insight into my (admittedly odd) brain, here are 15 items that I'm working on right now. If you think you can help me get closer to achieving any of them, I'd be so grateful.
- Learn to caramelize onions perfectly, every time
- Go to a Japanese baseball game, and know all the coordinated cheers
- Build a fire without matches or a lighter
- Get a kiss from Jon Hamm (I know he's taken—on the cheek is fine)
- Sew myself a dress I'm proud to wear in public
- Write an article for The New York Times
- Wear a Ghostbusters suit with Caitlin Moran
- Help a bright, underprivileged kid apply and get into a top college, and counsel and support them through graduation day (and beyond!)
- Drink Orval Vert at L'Ange Gardien in Belgium
- Get my Certified Cicerone (I'm already a Certified Beer Server, so I'm halfway there)
- Sit in the cockpit of a plane with the pilot(s)
- Go to the Vanity Fair Oscar party
- Be awarded a bottle of Cristal so big that I can't lift it (badass 94-year-old restaurateur Cecilia Chiang inspired this one)
- Give $5,000 to the Fistula Foundation
I'm especially hoping you can help me with that last one. An obstetric fistula is an injury sustained in childbirth that renders a woman incontinent. It's easily fixed with surgery, but women in developing countries who go without treatment can suffer for their entire lives, becoming ostracized from their families, communities, and even their own children because they're perceived as smelly or "unclean." It's estimated that ongoing problems relating to fistula affect over a million women worldwide. By funding this surgery and training medical professionals in 21 countries, the Fistula Foundation often quite literally gives women their lives back. (For those who like to know where their money is going, CharityNavigator has detailed stats, and has given the Foundation four stars, their highest rating, for the past decade.)
If one-fifth of the Listserve donates just $1, $5,000 should be a piece of cake. I'll get us 1/25th of the way there today with a $200 donation of my own. I would be so grateful if you would consider giving $1 (or more!) to the Fistula Foundation. It takes less than 60 seconds, and you'll have an immeasurable impact on a woman's life.
And if your life list involves anything having to do with food writing, San Francisco, reading more novels, or drinking craft beer, please do reach out. I'm hoping to help other Listservers check off at least 15 items (and hopefully a lot more!) from their own life lists.
Thank you to the Listserve team for this opportunity, and to my beautiful sister, Mackenzie, for always inspiring me to do and be better. I am an incredibly fortunate person, and this experience is a great reminder to approach each day with a little more gratitude for all the abundance I have.
"Email 25,000 people": check!
San Francisco, CA