Crowing Crone Joss Burnel is a blogger I follow with great interest. In another life, she could have been me (or I her). The other day she wrote this, as a challenge from fellow-blogger Dave Farmer, and in protest at Bucket Lists:
… nope, I’m not posting a Bucket List! But I will tell you there are things I dream of doing. Things like learning to weave, like finishing my novel, like sitting in a field in the French Alps reciting my poetry. Dreams of publishing a print and audio version of my poetry. I want to walk the Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth, I want to hike the Matterhorn, I want to stand in the heart of a field of sunflowers and walk along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. I want to indulge my appetite with a huge platter of seafood at St. Malo! … I want to sketch and water-paint. I want to sit quietly inside L’église de la Madeleine in Paris. I want to wander The Louvre, for days, and soak in all the beauty and wonder to be found there. I want to picnic at the beach and ride a bike along country roads. I want to visit the D-Day Memorial and, oh yeah, I want to meet Dave Farmer at a pub in England and swap stories over bangers and mash and a Guinness or two.
And I realised, yet again, how privileged and blessed I am. Because although I share some of those ambitions I have realised most of them, and more, and have felt the contentment and peace that Joss is so looking forward to enjoying.
Reciting my poetry in a field in the Alps, with only the cows for an audience; walking the Chartres labyrinth; hiking, not the Matterhorn, but other Swiss peaks; standing in a field of sunflowers, as well as a lavender field in Provence; strolling along the shore of the Mediterranean with no other tourists about or (for me) even better, wading along wild Breton shores, with a wonderful seafood platter as a reward at the end (Oh yes, Joss, definitely do that in St Malo); sitting in a quiet spot in any of the Paris churches (not always easy to find quiet there – if you can, try Reims cathedral, where there are wonderful angel statues); wandering the Louvre, rather than just making a mad dash for the Mona Lisa (I love the Victory statue); picnics on the beach; and the overwhelmingly tragic mood of the D-Day beaches on a dull day in October is something I will never forget.
I have indeed ridden my bike along country lanes, with my heart in my mouth, as I am unable to steer straight – and nowadays, with cars zooming along those same country lanes, cycling means taking my life in my hands. However, I share Joss’s dream of publication, of finding time to draw and paint, and learning – not to weave, but to knit. I do hope she gets to share bangers and mash and great conversation with Dave Farmer, and that she enjoys her Guinness (not my cup of tea, I’d take a scrumpy cider) – preferably in an authentic English country pub and not some twee chain place.
Her list gave me a kick in the pants. Nope, I don’t have a bucket list either, though I do have a not-so-secret ambition to do a round with the Stig, which I’ve already written about: achieving this is growing more unlikely by the day.
The list I need to write is quite different. It’s a Count-Your-Blessings List. In fact, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done that, as during the lowest period of my life when I was up to my ears in self-pity, I made it a habit for six months to write down 5 things every day that I was grateful for. And a very effective and sobering exercise that was. In the last dozen years or so I’ve been so busy enjoying myself doing my own thing and spending quality time with people who matter to me, that I got out of the daily habit of consciously listing at least 5 things to be grateful for.
Now thanks to Joss I can see just how many things I’ve done that are on other people’s “Wish-To-Do” List and start counting all the blessings I’ve been taking for granted. Joss is doing something very courageous, maybe even foolhardy, but I think it’s pretty wonderful. She is selling her house in Canada and coming to Europe for a year of wandering wherever fancy takes her and her husband. And with Joss’s zest for life and her ability to squeeze the juice out of every moment, I know that whatever happens it will be a fantastic experience for them. May you fulfil all your dreams, Joss, and forever walk in beauty!