My Wish List

Wish lists, such as things you want to accomplish before you turn thirty (or forty or fifty) or things you want to do before you kick the bucket (I finally figured out that’s what a bucket list is!!), seem to be perennial favorites as blog topics, so I though I’d share my list:

1.

Yep that’s it. A total blank. Looking back, there are only two things that were ever on my mental list of things I wanted to do with my life when I grew up: read and write. For most of my life, I indulged my habit of reading rather than doing something that might have been more lucrative, such as striving for a high-powered career. I also tried to write a novel when I was young and it was one of the regrets and sadnesses of my life to discover that I had no talent for fiction, yet eventually, I did become an author. (Proof that you don’t need an innate talent for writing but can learn how to tell a story in a compelling way, which in itself is sort of a talent.)

There are things that I would have added to a life list if I had been aware that I would experience them. I would have wanted to be deeply connected to another human being, to have the privilege of being there at the end of his life, though I had never aspired to doing either of those before they happened. I would have chosen to experience for a brief time such disparate places as a mesa in the high plains of Colorado, the edge of the north woods of Wisconsin, the high desert of California, but again, those are not things I would ever have added to any list since I’m not easily uprooted. I would have also wanted to reconnect with my best friend from high school, and now I’ve done that. (The visit was wonderful, by the way, and wonderfully strange considering all the years that have passed since I last saw her.) Besides, now that I’ve done these things, I would have crossed them off any list anyway, and the list would still be blank.

A couple of times I tried to do the creativity stimulation exercises in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, and I generally stuck with the morning pages (three pages every morning to write whatever came to mind) and the artist’s date (a weekly date with yourself) but always, when I got to the part about making lists, the excercises screamed to a halt. There are various exercises in the book involving lists: What would I try if it weren’t too crazy? What would I do if it weren’t too selfish? What five things would I never personally do that sound like fun? What do I wish for?

I’d like to be able to make a living with my books, of course, but other than that, no wish comes to mind. I’ve never had any desire to go to Paris or London, never had any desire to travel to exotic locales to see ancient ruins, though I wouldn’t mind seeing such places if I could figure out a way of simply being there without having to make the long trip. I did have a desire to see the Olmec heads, and one came visiting at a museum nearby, so I satisfied that desire.

I’m not sure it’s possible for me to become a wisher. I used to want things, of course, but too often I didn’t get what I wanted, so I learned not to want. I know it’s important for a character to want something — it’s what makes them compelling. But is it important for us to want things? Or is it better for us to be more zen in our approach, to accept what comes our way? This is where I am now, stuck somewhere in the middle of those two questions.

Maybe this could be my list?

1. Find something to wish for.
2. Wish for it.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+