Twenty Things You Should Do in This Lifetime

Twenty Things You Should Do in This Lifetime

From A 6th Bowl of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Twenty Things You Should Do in This Lifetime

When I was a young boy, my grandmother always asked me the question, “What is it you want?” I’d give the age-appropriate answer whether it was “candy” at age five, “a bicycle” at age twelve, or, “not answering dumb questions” when I was fifteen. She always listened carefully, and then asked, “What is it you really want?” I hated when she did that because it made me think—and thinking was painful. Invariably what I really wanted was different than what I’d originally asked for. Her final question was always the same. “What price are you willing to pay, in order to get that?”

When I was sixteen, she increased the complexity of the task. She asked, “What are twenty things you should do in this lifetime?” Each year, on Thanksgiving, she made me rewrite the list adjusting it as my maturity and wisdom grew. For twenty-eight years, I gave her my list before I ate her turkey dinner. I was never able to give her the twenty-ninth list. She died two days before Thanksgiving. However, I think she would have been proud of how she’d helped me grow, from the five-year-old who just wanted candy to this end result of twenty-nine years of refinement:

1. To leave the world a bit better by my having been here.

2. To love unconditionally.

3. To dream big dreams and be willing to pay the price to make them come true.

4. To visit the Lincoln Memorial at dawn.

5. To earn the affection of children.

6. To hike and raft the Grand Canyon.

7. To find out what I’m good at, and give it back to the world.

8. To watch a sunset on a tropical isle.

9. To earn the respect of intelligent people.

10. To learn my family history and visit the homeland.

11. To drive and bike across the country.

12. To help a stranger in need.

13. To make something that is still standing when I die.

14. To play a game for more than I can afford to lose.

15. To meditate and pray daily.

16. To do something others said was impossible.

17. To walk beaches under a full moon at midnight.

18. To take a stand on something and not back down under pressure.

19. To never lose childlike enthusiasm.

20. To swim naked under waterfalls.

What’s on your list?

Mike Buettell

More stories from our partners