Do you have a bucket list? I do. I’ve had it for about 12 years or so and long before the movie came out. I remember hearing an inspirational speaker talk about how people come to the end of their lives and regret the things they didn’t do more than they ever regret the things they actually did. He encouraged everyone to create a list of 100 things they wanted to do before they die. But don’t just create it – actually start doing them, with a goal of 1 or 2 things a year. He went on to encourage variety – yes, most of us will have places we want to see, but we should sprinkle in things we want to do or accomplish. And if you finish the list, keep adding to it.
He was effective in his talk and I was inspired to create my list. Although I have to admit it’s hard to come up with 100 things. I’ve never actually hit that number but I have over 50. Mine range from travel to learning sign language to painting a picture and sewing a quilt and lots in between. I figure as long as there are things not yet done, the list is still alive. As I’ve been whittling away at the list I also add the date of when I actually did it. It’s fun to pull it out and remember and dream up some more.
My first item to check off was riding in a hot air balloon. It’s something I had always wanted to do and by golly I was gonna start there. I did that adventure for my 40th birthday. My 14-year-old daughter was the only one in the family with the desire to go up with me. So we got up early in the morning to meet the pilot. We got to see them raise the balloon, an unexpectedly fun thing to see in and of itself. We got into the balloon’s basket with the pilot and rose to the sky with the roar of the fire that fuels the balloon. My husband (now ex) and my son drove around following the balloon’s path so they could pick us up at the end point, wherever that would be.
While we were in the air it was a fun and surreal experience. The pilot was a friendly woman who would talk a little but mostly left us to our own conversations. I was in heaven during that trip. What I found astonishing was the sensation of floating but also how quiet it was when she didn’t have to fan the flame. While we were very far up we could see so far – it was a lovely August morning and the view was spectacular. And when we were right above something we could hear clearly directly below. At one point there were a few kids playing by a pool below us. We could hear them holler up to us and wave. So we hollered and waved back much to the delight of those kids.
As we were nearing the time when we should land, out pilot commented that we’d actually get a little bonus time because the balloon’s path had drifted over one of the state penitentiaries. We all enthusiastically and laughingly declared that we were decidedly NOT going to take it down in the middle of the guarded break area as the prison entertainment of the day. So we’d just drift along further down the way, thank you very much, and land elsewhere.
But that was not the last of the adventure. As we were nearing the alternative landing site that she chose, the pilot was bringing us down at a nice gradual pace. Suddenly as we approached about 10 to 15 feet from the ground she saw wires – telephone wires right in our path. With that she yelled an urgent “hang on” and dropped the basket like a lead balloon right in that spot. We landed with a thud and the basket rolled over on its side. We were thankfully close to the ground and no-one got hurt but I remember the sudden spill and our ungraceful roll out of the basket. We all jumped up, unharmed and thankful that she had turned her head at just the right angle to see the wires appear against the background. Disaster averted and our blood pumping a little faster we were clamoring to tell our story over birthday breakfast. What an exhilarating experience to cross off the bucket list. One that I will always treasure and frankly, long to repeat.