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RSVPhillippi | July 2016


I'm Dying To...

By Dennis Phillippi

The other day a friend of mine said that he was going to a Widespread Panic show because it’s on his Bucket List. Once again, this is a grown man and going to a Widespread Panic show is one of the things he wants to do before he dies. I didn’t have a chance to ask him what else was on his Bucket List because I was busy digesting the idea that this concert was important enough to be on his list at all. That’s like having “go to the zoo” on your Bucket List.

In case you’re unfamiliar with this whole Bucket List thing, it was the title of a Jack Nicolson/Morgan Freeman movie about a couple of guys who are terminally ill who decide to do all the things they should’ve done before they got old and terminally ill. In the interest of full disclosure, I have never seen this movie. Mainly because the idea of watching two dying guys go skydiving isn’t my idea of a good time. Maybe this Bucket List thing existed before the movie, but it seems to be where everybody suddenly starting thinking about this stuff.

You probably have one. If not an actual list, you have something you have said is on your Bucket List and, chances are, some of you have things that I wouldn’t do while I’m not dying. The skydiving thing seems to be pretty high on everyone’s list, but I only know a handful of people who have actually done it. I’d like to do it, but when it comes down to brass tacks, it just seems like a lot of effort to put into maybe hitting the ground at six-hundred miles an hour. For one thing, the closest place to do it is over in Arkansas. That’s pain in the neck number one. By and large, if I cross that bridge, my destination isn’t Arkansas. It’s on the other side of Arkansas. Then, once you’ve made your way over there, you have to take some kind of class before you jump. I don’t need this class. What all could they possibly have to cover? “Okay, I’m going to strap myself to you, we’re going to jump out of an airplane and gravity is going to take it from there. Got it? Geronimo.” Then, of course, you have to get in a little plane, jump out of it, and not die. That’s a lot of work.

The same goes for bungee jumping. It seems like a fun idea until you think about all the effort involved in a once in a lifetime activity that has something like a one in a thousand chance of you ending up kissing a rock going much too fast.

Another popular thing on people’s Bucket Lists is traveling to exotic places. Here’s the thing about exotic places: they rarely have room service. If you dream of going to Paris or Rio or Amsterdam, that’s cool and attainable, but still an awful lot of work. Transatlantic flights are not exactly adventure travel. They’re more like being trapped in a confined space with potentially infectious people for nine hours while being attended to by people who have achieved tenure in the flight attendant business and apparently can’t be fired. Europe and South America are perfectly nice places if you enjoy the idea of being mugged in a foreign language. But exotic travel destinations, your Mount Kilimanjaros and your Machu Pichus and your African Safaris, aren’t just a matter of booking a plane ticket and trying to find a reasonably priced hotel that isn’t also a brothel. It’s a matter of having to get shots, train on how to climb mountains, and accept that all of this inconvenience may result in you being dinner for a hippopotamus. Good luck with that.

According to my always lazy research, another popular item on people’s lists is to learn a new language. First off, most of us have barely got a handle on English, and English is super easy compared to most other languages, with not having to figure out the gender of verbs and the like. We all grew up with English all around us, and yet far too many of us still say “supposively.” The issue with learning a new language when you’re an adult, especially one old enough to be contemplating your mortality, is a little thing called “Neuroplasticity.” Simply put, the older we get, the more rigid our brain structure becomes and the harder it is to learn new things, especially complicated things like Croatian. Trust me on this: if you’re over forty, an hour from now you won’t even remember the word Neuroplasiticy. This affects all kinds of Bucket List things that involve learning new things, so seriously, why bother?

Listen, I’d like to drive the Autobahn, ride a horse into the Grand Canyon, fire a grenade launcher, punch a celebrity, drink moonshine with a guy in a bear suit, and lots of other things, but the simple truth is I’m not going to because it’s all just too much work. Where am I going to find a bear suit? Which celebrity would I punch? It’s all just too complicated.

Let’s set some more realistic goals for our Bucket Lists. Things that we might actually do. Let’s all agree that everyone should read one of those books that no one ever actually reads. You know, the ones that we say we read in school but don’t remember much about because we never read them. That’s why that Cliff guy is so rich. Thank God he kept notes. I think I’m going to take a run at one of those big fat Russian novels like Crime and Punishment or Anna Karenina. A big fat tome that will pull my shoulder out of socket when I carry it around. And believe me, I will carry it around. Just so everyone sees it and I can say, “It’s on my Bucket List.”