I used to think that I would like to be an adventurer. I would go to South America and travel the muddy Amazon in a dugout canoe, outrunning any crocodiles that might show their ugly heads. I would camp out in the jungle and befriend the natives who would guide me along the way.
I thought that I would climb a mountain. It didn’t have to be Mt. Everest, any tall mountain would do. I would be a rock climber and tie myself by a rope to someone else. In case I slipped, they could keep me from falling to the river below. I would climb to the top and stand on the highest peak and look out over the clouds.
I thought that I might go to Egypt and ride a camel across the Sahara. It had to be the Sahara. Only the largest desert with the highest sand dunes would do. I would wear a handkerchief under my hat and pretend to be a member of the Foreign Legion. I would go for hours, days, without water until I came to an oasis where I would quench my parched throat just in the nick of time.
I thought I might go to the Arctic and fend off wolves and polar bears while living in a house of ice like a native, wrapped up in animal skins to avoid hypothermia and pondering the aurora borealis. Or, I might choose Africa and live in the jungle, studying gorillas like Dian Fossey. I would be a world-class wildlife naturalist and photograph giraffes, tigers, and elephants.
But now as I grow older, I know that I will never do any of these things. I will never go around the world in a hot air balloon or have exotic adventures beyond my wildest dream. I will never sail the seven seas or deep sea dive for treasure or go on safari in the African bush or save the environment for future generations.
And if, per chance, I win the lottery and go off to Switzerland to climb the Matterhorn, they could never say I did it because I was young and foolish and did not know the danger. They would say it was because I was old and senile. They would say that I was a dreamer, a child who never grew up. They would say that I was an irrational old woman. They would shake their heads and click their tongues about a grandma who rides roller coasters. They would call it an identity crisis, menopause, the change of life.
But I would not mind at all because I’ve spent my whole life worrying about what other people think. I would know that while the body grows old, the heart stays young and does not have to acknowledge impossibility.
And who are THEY anyhow? I don’t know, but THEY remind me a whole lot of those crocodiles on the Amazon.
Copyright 2001 Sheila Moss
What’s on your bucket list?