life list

I’ve been feeling old lately.  does this transition from childhood to “adulthood” make everyone feel weird?  and why is that elementary school, junior high, and high school seemed like such a difficult burden at the time, but now is remembered with the nostalgia of carefree days?  as a kid you’re told you’ll “grow up” one day.  you even pretend to be a grown up and then long to grow up and break free of the rules and restrictions of childhood.  but it doesn’t happen in an instant.  you’re not a child one day and a grown up the next.  as much as those new driver’s licenses at 18 and 21 make you feel like it.

I’m becoming more and more convinced that we never really grow out of childhood, and rather, we just learn to color within the lines.  we put on the work-appropriate outfit, pay bills, and buy groceries.  we (well, not me yet) pay mortgages.  we take on great responsibility.  but no matter how old we are, we long for a nap, a hug from our moms, and someone to hold us when we cry.  we still revel in vacations from responsibility.  we still try to make our parents proud.  we look different than our childhood selves, but many of our intentions are the same.

at 23 I’m feeling the brevity and fragility of life.  I used to think I could just jump on the conveyer belt and go, go, go.  bachelors, masters, doctorate.  I’ll check off the second one of those this year.  I started to think outside the box, though.  what is there outside of the rat race that really matters to me?  yes, those accomplishments will fulfill me and set me on a career path, but aside from what I do, what do I want to be? and can I be OK with momentarily stepping off the conveyer belt and later getting back on?

I used to think that I’d graduate college and immediately start medical school.  I planned and plotted for that to happen.  and then I changed my plans.  I decided to go to graduate school instead.  I started to feel like I’d added onto my workload and merely delayed myself.  I worried about graduating from medical school at 28 instead of 26.  well, now I’m on track to graduate at 29, and I can finally appreciate the time I’ve taken.  had I not taken my time, I wouldn’t have a background in public health.  I wouldn’t have discovered the passion I now have for food, wellness, and preventive medicine.  I wouldn’t have become a certified yoga instructor.  instead of being part of the race, I enjoyed the ride.  and now?  26 vs. 29?  feels like nothing.  feels worth it.  feels right.

like I said, though, the schooling relates to what I’ll do.  I’ve also been thinking a lot about what I’ll be. as much as I want to be a doctor, I don’t want to be defined a profession.  I’ve spent so much time planning for school and medicine, but what else should I plan for?  or maybe not plan, but rather intend. so I started making  a list.  using some guidelines.  part inspired by the mighty life list and part inspired by the buried life (AKA my favorite new show), I asked myself, “what do I want to do before I die?”  and I started making a list.  in no particular order.  and with the idea that it will change as I change.  things will be added, and things may be removed.  I thought about just keeping it to myself, but what fun would that be?  so, with some trepidation, here are my intentions:

Save a life.

Make my own kombucha.

Keep a garden.

Safari in Africa.

Speak Spanish fluently.

Add hanumanasana (seated splits) to my yoga practice.

Walk along the Great Wall of China.

Adopt a rescue dog.

Own a convertible.

Knit a sweater.

Record my family history.

See the pyramids in Egypt.

Learn to drive a standard.

Prepare a gourmet meal.

Go to the opera.

Read the Torah.

Learn to surf.

Visit the Taj Mahal.

Assist in the birth of a baby.

Give birth to a baby.

Own a home.

See the Grand Canyon.

Sing karaoke with confidence.

Place a note in the Western Wall.

Change my own oil.

Eat pasta in Italy.

Dance under the Eiffel Tower.

Visit Machu Picchu.

Stomp grapes in Napa.

Say thank you to the teachers who changed my life.

Make my own cleaning supplies.

Restore a piece of furniture.

Paint something to hang in my home.

Drive on the Audubon.

Provide medical care in a third world country.

Give blood with my eyes open.

Send a postcard to PostSecret.

Be a mentor.

Adopt a child.

Run a marathon.

Go on a yoga retreat.

Pay a stranger’s bill at a restaurant.

Write a six-figure check to charity.

Be debt free.

and now I ask you, what have you crossed off your life list?  do you have a life list?  is your life the way the imagined it as a child?  write something down today.  even just one thing that you want to do.  big or small.  what do you want to do before you die?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “life list

  1. You are an amazing and beautiful person. And yes, the ongoing transition of learning to color in the lines makes most of us feel a bit weird from time to time.

    Mine: Watch the sun rise over the curvature of the earth from the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro

    I love your list. I love you!
    ~ Sha

  2. Chelsea

    Mandy,

    I particularly like paragraphs three and four. They say so much about YOU and the beautiful person that you are. As I always say, you took the time to shape yourself as a human being before the system shaped you (med school). And that is what is going to make you an excellent physician, naturopath, or whatever your heart desires.

    It has been a joyful experience to watch you grow in that way and see your transition from running around in materials science labs to engaging in activities that are actually fulfilling and meaningful to you (yoga, vegan cooking/baking, etc).

    On a less serious note, let me know if you need inspiration for painting something to hang on your wall.

    I wish I could answer your question about what I want to do before I die. I guess I’ve never really thought about it too much. For now, before medical school, I would like to get another crazy haircut, get a tattoo and either go to Jamaica or Mexico.

  3. Wonderful list! I’m adding one item to mine: Meet Adrien Brody!

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