The List


Perhaps one of the most significant aspects of getting older is realizing that you are, actually, getting older and realizing the implications of age. This, I understand, is difficult to understand the younger one is. However, I think the lesson learned from this realization is important no matter what age we are. Consider…

One day you receive a letter in the mailbox addressed to you personally. The letter has no return address and is handwritten. You open the letter up anticipating the contents while at the same time nervous, excited, somehow knowing what the letter is. The envelope drops to the ground and you unfold the contents. It is a list. The list, you realize, is a list of your hopes and dreams, your goals and the expectations that you have developed over the course of your life. In short, it is your bucket list. You read the list a bit nervous, a bit excited, as you come across long forgotten dreams and current expectations that you realize you’ve never shared with anyone. You put the list in a drawer, bringing it out to entertain your friends on occasion: telling the story and reliving the moment at the mailbox. Years go by and the paper yellows but does not become brittle. One day you take the list out and realize to your horror that somehow the list is shorter. The thought, “I must be mistaken!” shoots through your mind. This cannot be; lists such as this do not become shorter. But, they do, and your realize this at the same time that you realize your hand is shaking. Instead of pulling out the list to entertain friends, you now hide the list in a box on a shelf in the closet. You cannot face looking at it anymore because you realize that throughout time you have not accomplished the goals, the dreams on the list. You realize that you are getting older, and the list is getting shorter. “How can this be?!” you think. “As I get older, I need to cross out the items on my list!” But you’ve crossed out only a few. The riddle weighs heavy and you reluctantly pull the box out with the list in it. You hesitantly open the box and carefully lay the list out on the table; you unfold the list slowly. You realize when you finally look down that items on the list are slowly fading, right before your eyes. You realize what the list is: it is a list of possible dreams, of possible goals, of possible expectations. It is a list of possibilities and as you grow older that list of possibilities fades.

Although it is difficult to understand and perhaps even more difficult to accept, the list of possibilities in life grows shorter as we grow older. I can only hope that we can realize what is possible and act upon those realizations. I have been told, and have come to believe, that the most difficult step is the first step. Take the first step towards your goals before the list is nothing but a blank and brittle memory.


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