Saturday, August 08, 2015

Bucket Lists

I read often read a blog written by a young man that has pithy thoughts about what constitutes a good quality of life. Today, he was talking about his bucket list and that got me thinking.

What would my bucket list look like?  What are the criteria?

First, I think they should be achievable.  Let's face it, I will never be an astronaut, or an opera singer, or a ballerina, because the basic physical requirements have always been lacking in this old body. Since I'm nearly retirement age without any real financial cushion, the items should be achievable financially, too, That year-long trip around the world with my daughter and besties which would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars will never happen, unless I hit the lottery, and I don't play the lottery, so that is simply not achievable, although more modest travel may be achievable.

Second, I think that the outcome should depend on me and me alone. Somehow, I think my old goal of finding Antonio Banderas naked in the back seat of my car would depend on him cooperating, if you get my drift, and his cooperation is pretty iffy, so that one is getting crossed off my list. Whatever is on my list should really depend on me alone.

I think they should stretch me in some way. To enhance the quality of my life, they should provide me the satisfaction that only comes with a job well done, with doing something that requires some effort, but they should still be achievable. My bucket list shouldn't devolve into a to do list, which is something completely different, at least in my mind. Yes, there are lots of icons I want to paint, sweaters I'm dying to knit, meals I want to cook, home improvements I'm dying to make, but those are part of my to do list, and I know that I can accomplish those.  To be life enhancing, my bucket list needs to provide me with the opportunity to do something new, or rise to a new level of competence, or require some effort.

I'll think some more about the criteria later, but now I'm moving forward to listing a few things that might make my bucket list. I'm nearly sixty. I hope and pray that I will live another 25 years or so.  How do I want to spend those 25 years?  Certainly, how I spent the last 25 years has not born fruit that met my criteria, and the 25 before that were, mostly, exploration.  What do I want to put on my bucket list now?

1. I want to feed my desire to experience new places, new people, new cultures, food and music. To me, this means travel, but my very limited finances will most likely prohibit me from being a world traveler. Maybe I will be able to make one trip that gets me to Europe or the Far East, perhaps to an Orthodox country where I could also study Orthodox music and iconography.  I love to plan, so my first travel goal is to plan this trip and how to make it happen.  The planning alone will be fun.

2. My second travel goal is a more modest one - I love road trips. I can't help it - I'm my father's daughter. I want to obtain a modest rv or trailer that will allow me to travel around the continent in my retirement with my pets, and even provide a full-time home if finances dictate.

3. I want to read the entire Bible at least twice, first, as a work of literature, so that I know all the stories and literary forms. My second pass would be to study it more fully, using the words of the Fathers and other sources so that I understand it with the mind of the Church. Receiving such understanding will surely change my heart in ways I cannot fathom at this point, but I know I'm hungry for such spiritual change.

Other than raising and supporting my daughter, I believe my life's work is as an Orthodox church musician and iconographer. I want to set the bar higher, so that my offerings to the church and the God I love is truly my very best. I think I can do better. I know I can do better.

4. Regarding church music, I need to learn to read enough Slavonic/Russian/Serbian/Greek/Arabic to be able to recognize hymns. This will also assist me in reading iconography texts and identifying saints in icons. I need to improve my musicianship - understanding and applying music theory better will allow me to give better pitches and to set music well. I want to improve my directing - maybe some courses, or better yet, watch and learn from the best choir directors.

5a. Regarding iconography, well, I have wonderful teachers and I want to maintain my very expensive connection with them, and increase it.  I want to maintain my week long iconography camp for the comaraderie and for the shot in the arm that it give me every year, but I also want to study with them one on one. Ksenia offered that to me and I didn't make it happen before she died. I regret that so deeply. Bucket lists are all about having no regrets, and it's important to me that not lose out again, so I want to regularly study with Marek as he has offered to me.  He is such a patient and clear teacher, and I just get a kick out of him, so spending time in his studio with him would be so enjoyable as well as blast me out of the status quo.

5b. I also want to study from time to time with other master iconographers whose work I admire. Dimitry Shkolnik immediately comes to mind, as does Fr. Anthony Salzman, Daniel Neculae and Theodoros Papadopoulos, in addition to studying with my main teachers Marek and Anna.  This year will be my fifth with Marek and Anna, and I realize that a personal style is emerging, and it is less russian than their style.  My style is not truly greek, either, but it is somewhere between the two, and the icons that truly touch me deeply have elements of both styles.  I want to develop and improve as an iconographer, to move beyond copying and tracing, to drawing on the board and letting the saint develop in a more lively  and immediate way.  That relationship of the saint, me and the board is what it's all about. It's time to move beyond tracing and copying.

Well, that's what I came up with this morning. I will revisit my bucket list from time to time to tweak and fine tune it.