Kicking the Bucket: Things I’d Like to Do Before I Die

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this is the second article on the theme of bucket lists.  I  found my list a little overwhelming, so I broke it up into age categories to make it a little more manageable (at least in my mind!).  Here are a list of things I would love to do before I hit certain ages.
Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air Balloon (Photo credit: Eric Lim Photography)

Before 30
  • Act in an off-Broadway play
  • Build my own study/studio (I love books and art and wide open spaces.  For more of an idea of what I mean, check out the Pinterest photo album I’ve dedicated to this dream.)
  • Get my first tattoo
  • Get my motorcycle license
  • Get tattooed with my mom (We’ve had a sort of pact that we’d both get tattooed on her 50th birthday, which is fast approaching.  I guess I should think up a design…)
  • Go rock climbing
  • Go skinny dipping
  • Have a picnic in Central park (basket, wine, the works!)
  • Have coffee (or hot chocolate) with Don Miller (I know the saying goes, “Never meet your heroes.”  I’m willing to take the hit on this one.)
  • Learn to play guitar proficiently (I define this as being able to read the music and pick up the tune easily.  I’ve started taking guitar classes, so I’m on my way!)
  • Learn to use a sewing machine
  • Make Cheetara costume (as you’ll see in tomorrow’s post, I’ve dressed up for conventions a few times.  I want to go with a few people to a convention as the Thundercats at some point.)
  • Ride a zip line
  • Run a successful Etsy shop (I define this as 5 or more sales per month in both Roaring Out and Lady Velociraptor)
  • See a Broadway musical (My mom took me to one when I was a baby, so that doesn’t really count)
  • Take a dance class
  • Take a hot air balloon ride
  • Take a road trip where the only parameter is to get back home before I run out of money
  • Take part in a writing residency
  • Try frisbee golf
  • Visit Portland, Oregon
  • Visit Spain
  • Write a fan letter to Jason Statham and see if he responds
flamer

flamer (Photo credit: olaerik)

Before 35

  • Adopt a chimp
  • Fly an airplane
  • Get married
  • Go on a missions trip
  • Gut a fish
  • Have my photography published in a magazine or book
  • Have one or two kids
  • Have publication credits from at least 10 different lit mags
  • Make my own beer
  • Publish my first book
  • Raise $5,000 to drill a well with LiquidWater.com
  • Swing from a chandelier
  • Take a hot air balloon ride
  • Travel to Israel
  • Try blowing glass or working with hot glass
  • Visit Montreal
  • Visit the Globe Theatre in London
  • Walk away from an explosion in slow motion (like the movies!  or Gangnam style)
Flamenco culture is native to Andalusia.

Flamenco culture is native to Andalusia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before 40

  • Be in a band
  • Be in at least one episode of a favorite TV show of mine (preferably Dr Who, but I’d be cool with Supernatural, too)
  • Flamenco dance in Spain
  • Maintain a regular exercise routine (not necessarily go to the gym, but maybe still spar and such)
  • Make my own wine in Napa Valley
  • Read a book a week and write a review for each (I finished a 25 @ 25 photo challenge earlier in the year.  Perhaps I can do a 40 @ 40 book review challenge…)
  • Read at a Poetry reading where I am the headliner
  • Ride a gondola in Italy
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Visit all 50 states (alternately, have sex in all 50 states. A friend of mine mentioned that she had done this and it sounded like a fun, unique challenge 😉 )
Laurel wreath

Laurel wreath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before 50
  • Become Poet Laureate of the state I’m currently living in
  • Make a habit of traveling abroad each year

I must give credit where credit is due.  I would not have written out a bucket list were it not for the blogs of these two lovely ladies: Lesley Carter and Julie

Check out their blogs.  They do some pretty incredible stuff 🙂

What is one item on your bucket list?

Of Mitres and John Coltrane: My Thoughts on Blue Like Jazz

Blue Like Jazz: The Movie

I think Don Miller is pretty cool.  If you’ve spent any time around me, you already know this.  I’ve been reading his books for a couple of years now.  He seems like the kind of guy you could sit down with at a coffee shop and talk for hours, which might be why I keep reading.

The reason could also be that his work is real.  Don doesn’t sugar coat life or faith or the hard work it takes to get where you want to go.  So I was thrilled to learn his memoir, “Blue Like Jazz,” was going to be made into a movie.  And after this surge of anticipation came a wave of dread.  Books turned movies don’t always translate well (“The Lightning Thief” anyone?).

As a book, Blue Like Jazz is a beautiful fusion of faith and wrestling and life and interactions with people that seem really off-beat (in the best way.)  To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the film.  Many movies under the “Christian” label can be quite biased and unrealistic.  This movie could also swing in the opposite direction, creating a piece devoid of any deeper meaning.

After I saw the movie this past Friday, I was happy to find that Blue Like Jazz is delightfully balanced, showing both the reality of life (specifically college life) and all of its complexities when you throw in wrestling with faith.

Sure, there will be the people who may expect a sermon and will not be happy with the fact that the movie doesn’t end with Don’s character parading around the campus of Reed College handing out Bibles and yelling, “Repent!”  There will also be people who won’t like it because of all the God talk.  But, ultimately, this movie serves as a great discussion piece.  Not to say that the cinematography wasn’t good or that the dialogue felt forced.  But the movie is more than close-ups and funny one-liners.  Blue Like Jazz is a movie that isn’t afraid to wrestle with the larger life questions and refuses to present clear-cut answers simply because we all have our own experiences, which almost never produce a neat answer when we add them all together.  Life is art, not math.

There are certainly big differences between the book’s accounts and the movie’s portrayal.  But the film tells a good story (and, really, isn’t that what a movie should accomplish?).  There is one scene I keep coming back to where Don’s character is speaking with his father.  His dad is sitting on a lawn chair outside of his trailer, drinking a beer, and listening to Coltrane when he says two lines that have stuck with me: “Life is like Jazz music.  It doesn’t resolve.”  This is the main theme I took away from the movie.  It’s a theme that is nuanced, and certainly opens the floor to discussion.

A Love Supreme

All of the people Don interacts with along the way (Penny, Lauryn, “the Pope”) are three-dimensional.  They are not dismissed as heathens or God girls or merely intellectuals.  There’s depth to them, qualities that made them all human.  This is perhaps my favorite aspect of the movie, mostly because I can relate.  I have a friend who reminds me of Lauryn and a friend who is pretty much “the Pope” (minus the mitre).  And these friends have struggles and beauty and flaws.  And yet, I feel that some would box them in, then write in big, bold, Sharpie letters “THE LESBIAN” and “THE PAGAN.”  Blue Like Jazz shows that people are more than the sum of their labels without being preachy.  That in and of itself is quite a feat.  I hope movies (both Hollywood and “Christian”) will take a hint from this movie and create more films with complex characters.

Ultimately, I enjoyed the film not because it was made by a Christian author or marketed to a specific audience.  I enjoyed the movie because it is refreshing, because it is honest, because it celebrates the very human freedom to question and draw conclusions from our own messy and beautiful experiences.

It has been five days since I’ve seen this movie. For whatever reason, I can’t stop listening to John Coltrane.

Listen to a song by Coltrane here: Acknowledgement by John Coltrane from the album A Love Supreme

Poetry: A Spiritual Practice

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posed the question, “Is poetry a spiritual practice?”  I thought about this for a while, not because I wasn’t sure if writing was a spiritual practice, but because I couldn’t quite articulate why I believed it was.   Even though the question was posed via facebook status, I spent quite some time crafting an e-mail response…because I can’t say anything concisely.  And this is what I came up with:

Quill and ink

Image via Wikipedia

Poetry is a way for me to connect with people and nature, everything around me, which are all ways to connect with God.  I’m reminded of somethingone of my favorite authors, Don Miller, said: “We connect with God when we ask Him to defeat in us all the ways in which He cannot connect, all the untruth and games and manipulation and we come to Him finally saying, ‘Okay, I get it, you really are good, defeat in me the lack of faith, let your goodness rid me of the stuff that doesn’t connect with you or the world around me.'”

Poetry is a unique form of prayer.  It is a practice that allows me to cut through all of my cluttered thoughts and feelings so that I can get to what matters, what I need to hear and what I need to share with others. It is my way of getting on my knees and crying out, it is my way of talking with God, it is my way of asking forgiveness, it is my way of asking for fire.

I’m also reminded of something the poet Matthew Dickman said in an interview.  He was asked about what sparked him to write a poem.  He told about how he’s usually moved to write while musing about something he enjoys.  Matthew went on to say: “I suppose it’s the “like” that moves me to begin writing a poem—some sort of celebration in my chest wanting some words to understand itself, some sort of grief needing a body.”  There are these urges, these pushes to write that must be followed and, in the process, feel sacred.  There is so much that goes on in one life, sometimes these occurrences beg to be written down.

Thoughts?  Is writing a spiritual practice?  Can it even be considered a spiritual discipline?