Thoughtful Thursday: Off the List

December 13, 2012

Thoughtful ThursdayA month ago, the New York Times photography blog posted a series of photos of a place that I am pretty sure I will never visit: the fake old west towns in Spain’s Tabernas Desert. When I go back to Spain, that is not where I want to be. I don’t even want to visit the actual old west towns that are within a few hours driving distance of me; why would I miss out on presumably limited time in Barcelona or Granada or Bilbao to go to Tabernas? The only way I can imagine would be if Burrito or Tamale becomes the world’s biggest Man With No Name fan, but even then, ugh.

Seeing those photos was a bit of a revelation because mostly, there is nowhere that is off my travel list. I have been lots and lots of places, including a few quite rarely visited, and there are a hundred others that I would like to visit. Even those that I’m not rushing to visit are all still possibilities. Australia? As soon as possible. Afghanistan? I hear it was amazing once; hopefully someday it will return to glory. Antarctica? Maybe… penguins are awfully cute.

My other lists in life aren’t quite as limitless as my travel possibilities, but still pretty big. I will never be the president, thank goodness, but it’s not impossible that I could gain wide recognition someday. I will never climb Mt. Everest, and I’m 100% fine with that, but I have climbed a mountain before and can’t rule out another one. But with my recent illness (which still hasn’t been sorted out, by the way), the possibility of true limits has descended. I saw a photo of the mountain that’s next to the one that I climbed in my youth, and instead of, “maybe I will climb that with Burrito and Tamale someday,” my thought was, “I can’t even climb a set of stairs right now; I will never scale anything again.” I don’t plan to run any marathons, but half-marathons have always been a possibility; suddenly when I got sick, walking became a big deal.

We plan not to have more children: DH doesn’t want to go beyond the twins, and most of the time I agree; even if we wanted more children, it would take herculean treatment efforts that would probably fail and cost us six figures and break our hearts. We’re done. It’s something I’ve accepted. But, getting sick made it feel like choice was no longer a consideration. I would forever be absent from the RE’s waiting room not because I chose never to return, but because my body had banned me for life.

At this point, with my health issues not yet resolved, I truly don’t know whether my pre-illness life possibilities remain true or whether a bunch of things have been permanently crossed off the list. Whatever happens, this crisis has cemented the fact that any mountains I climb or marathons I run will be accompanied by two children, but not three.

What have you already eliminated from your life list? Which items have you accepted willingly vs. regretfully?


12 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Off the List”

  1. Cat Says:

    Having more children is also off our list. DH always said he wanted two kids for sure and a third would be a bonus. For a while I thought I’d like to have four. But after the years, money, and heartache it took to have our three, we are now done. We feel our family is complete, but we also don’t have the time, money, or energy to try again (and again and again). I’d rather spend all that on the kids we have now. I’m also a bit afraid of the uncertainty of whether my cervix would give out again. Of course it may have been because of carrying triplets, but maybe it couldn’t handle any number of babies.

    I feel like it’s our choice to cross that off the list. But whenever some stranger asks if we’re done, or worse, declares that I’m done, I’ll sometimes tell them we haven’t decided yet.

  2. St. Elsewhere Says:

    First and foremost, what is up with you?

    We are still not sure if there will be no baby after Figlia. Sometimes, I do like to however believe, that I do not have it me to try and raise another kid. Those are bad days. Then, there are days I would love for her to have a sibling.

    I cancelled attending a competition, because I could not make suitable arrangement for Figlia.

    Admitting something to someone I almost did – crossed off from my life list.

    I love winters, but only when it is so cold outside, and I have avenues of keeping myself very cosy and very tucked in. I will never climb the Mt. Everest.

    Not very willingly, but what I do professionally, and where I do will always be affected by my DH’s choices as well.

    I will never be able to emulate and have the awesome relationship my mother had with her in-laws, and I am regretfully letting go off it as well.

  3. Sara Says:

    Sounds like the experiences that prompted this post are not so good. 😦 I hope things are sorted out soon, and positively.

    This is an interesting question to think about, because as my life goes on, I feel like I’m either (a) adding things to the list rather than taking them away or (b) only taking them away because I’ve done then. A decade ago, moving to Europe wasn’t even seriously on the list. We’ve now been here 7+ years, and in that time I have gotten to travel more and do more and see more and eat more than I would ever have imagined I’d do. I realized last week as our plane landed in Cape Town, that I’ve now been to more than half the continents — still have Asia, Antarctica, and South America to do.

    There is one thing that I thought I was going to have to check off the list, and had almost reached the point where I was OK with that, even though it was really, really hard and I think in the long run would probably have caused some depression, and that was having kids. That was always high on my list, and so the thought of taking it off was hard to adapt to. Now, I’ve gotten to take it off because I’ve done it.

  4. a Says:

    I had a car accident almost 2 years ago, and the residual effects from the whiplash mean that it’s unlikely that I’ll ever go on a roller coaster again. That is unpleasant, because I love roller coasters.

    I’ve written off trying to have a second child. It’s been a couple years since we made that decision, but I still sometimes wish…even though I know it’s not going to happen.

    I think the physical limitations of illness or aging are extremely challenging. You’re used to being able to do certain things, without thought. When you have to think about doing those things, just to get them done (like walking up the stairs), it is a stark reminder that you can’t take anything for granted. Even something you’ve known how to do since you were an infant…

  5. dora Says:

    Meant to comment last week. How very scary! Hope this all gets figured out and dealt with soon.

    Hmmm, interesting question. I think I’m pretty flexible about my lists. Having another child was never on my list, so it’s not something I think about unless someone asks. Funny, I used to make all these excuses, i.e., I’m too old, can’t afford another, etc., but I realized that was disingenuous. So now I generally smile and say, “One and done.”

  6. Ana Says:

    I also meant to comment last week. I am so sorry you are going through this and hope it is resolved quickly (and happily). This decreasing of possibilities is one of the harder parts of getting older—remember when EVERYTHING seemed possible and your life list was literally infinite? As the years pass by, I’m realizing many things simply not going to happen—either due to circumstance or simple lack of interest. I may want to be the kind of person who climbs Mt Kilimanjaro, but I’m not. I’m never going to go sky-diving or become a scuba-diver. There are places in the world I definitely do not see myself ever visiting—including the “fake ghost towns” in Spain. We probably are never going to live near the ocean—its still a dream of mine, but my husband is so not into it. I am not going to be famous or have someone write a song about me (not sure why, but I’ve always sort of fancied the idea of a musician falling in love with me and writing a song…)
    I have not yet let go of the possibility of more children. Getting closer, but haven’t let go….

  7. Elana Kahn Says:

    I honestly can’t think of anything I’ve officially crossed off my list. We’re still considering more kids, and though we’ve settled in Boston there’s no reason we couldn’t move somewhere. There’s nowhere I wouldn’t travel…

    But there are things I can say I crossed off my bucket list…Like going to Europe (London!), meeting Colin Morgan (for like 30 seconds lol), having children, etc. But I would still want to do all three again. 🙂

  8. strongblonde Says:

    i feel like i don’t ever really cross something off….it most gets shifted to the “maybe” section. Running a marathon? maybe. Changing jobs and moving again? Maybe. Becoming vegan? maybe.

    Some things were never on ANY list: skydiving? never. joining our military. no way. etc. etc.

    having a baby? boy am i uncomfortable with that, from both sides. we have frozen embryos….but i can’t bare to part with them right now. will we have more kids? probably not. but i can’t say for sure.

    this makes me feel like i don’t commit. but i do. 🙂

    i am still hopeful that you are on the mend and that shit will start to get sorted out!!! i owe you an email!!

  9. It might be the bed rest talking, but I’ve decided that I’ll never get pregnant again. Like ever-ever, get my tubes tied just in case the universe wanted to work a miracle and have us spontaneously conceive ever.

    I’ve also decided not to travel back to most of the countries I’ve already visited, b/c there are so many other countries I want to see.

    The other week, my husband and I met with our financial guys to plan out our financial life until the day(s) we die. We’re going to work for BLANK more years. We’ll most likely earn close to the income we’re earning today with no big promotions or windfalls expected for either of us.

    It struck me as so finite. Like we are where we are and we’ll most likely be here for the next 20 years.

    Now that we’re having twins, most of the big surprises left in our lives will most likely be negative ones. But I am happy to be secure for now. And I’m also happy to have a life plan, even if it does feel a bit odd to have it all planned out..

    As for recognition, I’ve decided to start crossing things off my list that are in other people’s hands. For example Oscars and Pulitzers. It seems kind of silly to have goals that are dependent on others liking your work and in many cases, you as a person.

    Speaking of which, I think I’m finally accepting being an introvert, which is interesting because I fought it for years.

    But I don’t think I’ve crossed any major desires off the list.

    It’s more a matter of figuring out how to do things practically. Like yes, I have a super-long list of countries I want to see, so we’ve worked the cost of a post-retirement cruise around the world into our retirement plans. Before we actually had kids, I just kind of thought we’d drag them around the world with us. Another example, I’ve made an overall project slate and a writing plan for 2013 and want to make a writing plan that goes through to CH’s retirement once the twins hit preschool — in my 20s, there was just a big mumble jumble of stuff I wanted to write. Basically, we still have our dreams, but our path to achieving them is much more practical.

  10. Climbing a 20K+ mountain and running a marathon (or any fraction thereof) have long been on my off list. Traveling to Antarctica is, too (unless one of my kids went to live on the ice, to technically I guess there’s a loophole, like your No Named Man).

    But none of those bother me. What does bother me are thoughts that I won’t ever do the splits, a one-armed balance pose, even a handstand.

    I do smile at the thought of you ant B&T climbing a mountain or running a marathon. My wish for you is that it remain in the realm of possibility.

  11. Mina Says:

    So sorry to hear your health problems are still not figured out and fixed. Get better soon!

    I never dreamt of climbing mountains (what for? I am so much better at lounging by the sea) or running marathons (running is not for me, I do other stuff, but hate running). What I am trying to make peace with is the fact that my children will not be able to properly write in my native language (highly inflected, closest to Latin, very impredictable, quite a challenge to speak and write it correctly). They will surely understand and speak it fairly well, but will not have the time to learn all the subtle grammar rules and write flawlessly. It never bothered me before, because I never thought about it. Realising how much I improvise in my native tongue while talking to them makes my heart ache a bit thinking that they will probably do that with their children in another language. It is part of who I am,but it is a very small part of who they are. Unless they prove to be linguistic sponges and speak three languages perfectly. So far, it is an ongoing process.

  12. I hope your health issues will be resolved soon, and in a positive way. So you can climb a hill again, and maybe a mountain (and if that’s not going to be possible, just move to Holland, you won’t be tempted by anything hilly…).

    The only thing I think I’ve crossed off my list is having a real career. Two intercontinental moves, a hubby who’s traveling a lot for work, two small kids, and living in a country that doesn’t seem to know what to do with people who don’t have French degrees and/or stayed in the same line of work all the time, made me more or less give up. I try to tell myself that it’s all OK and not really important, but it still stings. I should get over it…

    Other than that crossing the USA on a bicycle is still on my wish list. I hope I won’t have to cross it off. Would love to get my kids crazy enough to do it with me (DH will probably be in the sag wagon – he’d also like to cross the USA, but prefers a Peterbilt!)

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