12.23.2010

we like lists: list # 5: alternate realities

Our last list recounted fantasies that money can buy. Today we'll list the ones money can't buy. (I promise the next list will be less wistful and more affirming, but let's do this one first.)

Name five things you wish you could do but can't or won't. Not something you can't afford - that's the lotto list - but something outside your capabilities or your life path - activities or lifestyles out of your reach, but that you would love to be able to do.

Here's my list. Only the first item makes me sad. The rest are just dreams.

1. Write a truly great novel, something read for generations.

2. Sing with a band. When I was younger I wanted to be Chrissie Hynde. Now I'd go for Lucinda Williams.

3. Be athletic enough to play any sport reasonably well. I'm not talking elite-level here. Just to be competently athletic, enough to have the confidence to try any sport or physical activity without fear or embarrassment.

4. Have no fixed address. Be a perpetual traveler, living wherever I set down for a few months, then moving on.

5. Run an animal sanctuary. Have a huge plot of land where dogs, horses and other animals that were going to be killed could have a safe, loving home - especially dogs considered unadoptable.

You?

35 comments:

M@ said...

Your #3 is my #1. Even company softball can be an exercise in humiliation for me. I'd even take it further -- I wish I could have been an olympic-level athlete. I'm still fascinated with sports and athletes (and I'm getting ready to pitch a sports-themed non-fiction book to a publisher right now, as it happens) but I know I'll never even be competent at any physical activity.

Other than that:

2. Own a really good used bookstore.

3. Cook in a really high-quality restaurant. Or a series of restaurants, with cuisines from all over the world. In fact, doing some real chef training would probably fit in here too.

4. Work as a diplomat. It seems like all the fascination of politics without all the annoying constituents.

5. Become a really good musician. I have a lot of experience playing music, and a lot of training too, but I'll never be one of those natural musicians. It just isn't in me.

Amy said...

Your #1 is my #1, but just a dream for me. Since I started reading and fell in love with books, I have always dreamed that I could create a world for readers the way great authors have done for me. Alas. Not to be.

2. Your number 5 would be on my list---that was my childhood fantasy---living on a farm with as many animals as I wanted. Now I know it would be a lot of work!

3. How about time travel, or is that too far from the realm of reality? I would love to go back in time, meet my ancestors, see my parents as children, etc.

4. I would love to go to many exotic places that I know I will never have the money or the time to visit: the Galapagos, an Africa photo safari, Australia/New Zealand, parts of Asia. I know that many people pull off these kinds of trips, but I don't think they are in the cards for me.

5. Do a solo trip on a sailboat around the world. For some reason, that has been another fantasy of mine. Or live in the woods alone like Thoreau. Some part of me is intrigued by the idea of testing my ability to live in isolation and survive.

Amy said...

If my time travel wish doesn't count, I guess I would wish that I could be a talk show host and get to interview whoever I wanted!

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Oo, this is better than I thought!

Even company softball can be an exercise in humiliation for me.

Same here, and I learned as a child to avoid anything like that at all costs. But like you, I am fascinated with athletes, especially the psychological aspects of sport. That's one reason I wrote about athletes with disabilities for a very long time and about the whole world of disability sports.

Your #1 is my #1, but just a dream for me.

It's just a dream for me, too. :(

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Amy, maybe you should pluck one place from your dream travel list, plan the trip, and go. You might find that some places are more accessible than you think. Just a thought.

allan said...

1. Play guitar.

2. Retain information so I could effectively discuss or argue about things I feel passionately about.

3. Does "write better" count? If not, be less shy.

4. Feel well-rested. (I hope it is still within my capabilities to drastically reduce or eliminate my sleep apnea (or whatever the hell makes me fatigued all the time), but sometimes I fear it is not.)

5. Be able to see how my life would have turned out -- like a one-hour summary as a private movie -- if I had made different decisions. (I was going to write "different decisions at key moments in my life", but how do you know what ends up being key? Some are obvious, I suppose, but most are not.)

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Write better must count - it's effectively my number one.

5. Be able to see how my life would have turned out -- like a one-hour summary as a private movie -- if I had made different decisions.

I would never want this. If I was magically offered this, I would turn it down.

Isn't it interesting how different people's minds work?

Amy said...

If I had to pick one off that list, it would probably be the African safari. But I am a terrible flier (as you know), and just the thought of spending 20+ hours on a plane is enough to send me into a state of high anxiety. Plus the cost and the time it would take to make such a trip worthwhile put it on the unlikely list and "outside [my] capabilities and life path."

But who knows? Maybe with enough drugs and good health, I will brave this kind of trip when we retire.

allan said...

I would never want this. If I was magically offered this, I would turn it down.

It might work well only if in every other scenario, your life turned out really shitty. Hmmmm ...

Maybe I'd only want outcomes of a few things known. Thinking about my life if I had blown off the the flight to New York on July 19, 1985 terrifies me, it truly does, but I have a morbid curiosity. (Of course, that was only 1 of a million decisions that brought us to where we are today, but it's a big one.)

allan said...

Can I have six?

6. "enough drugs and good health"

Amy said...

You are shy, Allan? Who would know from cyberspace! I tend to be also when I am with new people or people whom I can't "read" well.

As far as seeing how my life would have been different based on different decisions, although I find that intriguing (like "Sliding Doors," a movie I enjoyed and Harvey hated), I also sort of believe that things work out the way they are supposed to in most cases. Maybe I am spending too much time at yoga!

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

I hope you do. Because the kind of travel you want to do is within reach - not all of it, but some of it.

For Africa, those 20 hours on a plane aren't all at once. And you'd sleep through a lot of it (via drugs).

The safari doesn't actually require that much planning, relative to some trips, because you need a company to do most of it for you.

I'll stop now. :)

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Of course you can have six. I'm there with you for that! Tons of mind-altering substances with none of the risk. That's related to the lotto fantasy.

Amy said...

OK, Laura, I am going to put that on my list of things I WILL try to do, as opposed to the alternate reality list!

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Allan is much less shy than he used to be, but he is less comfortable socially than many other people.

Believe it or not, I can be shy in certain situations, too. I am worthless in the networking-shmoozing with strangers thing.

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

OK, Laura, I am going to put that on my list of things I WILL try to do, as opposed to the alternate reality list!

Yay! I think you really should. The biggest obstacle for you is fear/anxiety, and whenever that's the case, it's something I really want and hope people will do. When you get there, it is such an accomplishment.

Amy said...

I am AWFUL at the networking thing. I try to avoid all alumni functions for work because I never have a clue what I am supposed to talk about with former students, most of whom I cannot remember at all!

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Me too. Awful. There are tons of networking opportunities presented to us at school to help us find jobs and get in with the field. I do none of them, and I go about my own networking in my own way, one on one. Milling around at a social event, feeling awkward and tongue-tied will not help me get a job!

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

I also sort of believe that things work out the way they are supposed to in most cases

I don't. I think things work out the way they work out and people make the best of it or at least learn to live with it.

I'm guessing that when you say "sort of" and "in most cases" it's because you know that too.

Dharma Seeker said...

Your #5 on this list would be #1 on my lottery list :)

deang said...

1. Be able to get right-wingers to respond to logic and compassion. Be able to get them to stop their harmful behavior of their own accord (and if not, be able to force them to stop – but that’s a different ability).

2. Not be so afraid of people generally. I have some sort of social anxiety that prevents me from doing a lot of things and I’d like for it not to be there. Yet, at this point I’m comfortable with it and used to it so I just roll with it. I wish I both understood it and could function okay whether it’s there or not.

3. Be able to focus easily on anything and get everything done. That would allow a lot of things to happen that I want to do.

4. The preceding three currently prevent this, but I’d love to do really important activist work, especially in the area of police brutality, excessive imprisonment, militarism, and a number of other things. Fear and pessimism currently make it unlikely that I’ll do more than I’ve done so far.

5. Be able to time travel without any problems (like unexpected aging or being unable to return to where you came from). I would love especially to see extinct creatures and pre-European-invasion landscapes – the flocks of migratory Passenger Pigeons so thick that they darkened the sun for days and also the diverse forests that enabled such flocks to exist, as well as the indigenous people who somehow managed to live among them for millennia without wiping them all out. Also, Tenochtitlan, ground sloths, glyptodonts, moas and elephant birds, seeing how the Polynesians colonized all those islands, so much more.

deang said...

I can relate to the wanting to sing in a band and wanting to be athletic. I sang as a teenager, classical style, but never with a band (though I was told I should). I remember how good it felt when my voice was in top form and I could do whatever I wanted with it within my range. I imagine that's what athletic ability must be like, only for the whole body. I'm not a sports fan generally, but when I see a really good athlete I always imagine that it probably feels really good to be able to do the things they do.

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

My desire to have some athletic ability is definitely for how it would feel - the grace, the coordination, the ease - and not any kind of competitiveness or adulation.

The singing is because, damn, that looks like so much fun! So cool and sexy and joyous. A youth spent lip-syncing into a comb. :)

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Your #5 on this list would be #1 on my lottery list :)

I know :)

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Be able to get right-wingers to respond to logic and compassion.

You would be the greatest superhero of all time.

johngoldfine said...

In the alternative--

I would ride like Klaus Hempfling, sing like Van Morrison, be as kind as Jean R. Goldfine, write like the Apostle Paul, be as judicious as George Orwell--and as brave--,and have the sex life of an alpha male rabbit high up on a chalk down in Southern England.

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Oh wow. I love that your wife makes the list, a quality of hers you admire or perhaps envy.

Amy said...

I think things work out the way they work out and people make the best of it or at least learn to live with it.

Probably true. But I do think also that when it comes to decisions---where to live, where to work, who to love, etc.---as opposed to things we have no control over, even when we make mistakes in those choices, we learn something and we enrich our lives. So to that extent, it was "supposed to happen." I try hard not to regret decisions, even mistakes, so that's how I see it.

Lorraine said...

If #1 makes you sad, you should definetely move it from your alternate reality list to your bucket list. Clearly you know how to write. Now to get a sense of narrative. A novel of 1,000 pages starts with one word.

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Lorraine, I've written two novels, but I don't write fiction anymore. I don't have the talent to write a novel for the ages, the kind I'm thinking of. That's just the way it is. But thanks for the thought!

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Amy, I agree - which is why I wouldn't want Allan's #5.

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

I should say, I agree that all so-called mistakes are learning opportunities, and it's best to not regret. I don't believe anything is supposed to happen, in the sense of fated or preordained or "everything happens for a reason".

Amy said...

I think we agree. I just am more fascinated by the "what ifs" as a hypothetical than you are. But only as a hypothetical. I wouldn't ever go back to change a decision because I am so happy just where I am right now, even with whatever mistakes or dead ends or disappointments there have been along the way.

impudent strumpet said...

1. Do as much stuff in any given period of time as normal people do. Lots of people have children and time-consuming hobbies and cook dinner and renovate their houses and go on epic road trips on the weekend, and meanwhile I can barely read the papers and do a nominal amount of housework and errands. I don't want to do what the children/hobbies/dinner/reno/road-trip people's do, but I'd like to have the ability to do the same amount of things.

2. Have my feelings expire. Some people seem to stop being angry about something after a certain period of time, and some people even seem to be able to stop loving someone. It sounds kind of soulless and kind of scary, but it also sounds like it would be a really useful superpower.

3. All things physical. Everything from dancing in a way that isn't painful to watch (or dance in proximity to) to arranging objects in a useful and aesthetically pleasing manner in the available space.

4. Know when to stop thinking/worrying about things. Everyone always tells me I overthink things and is surprised by the extent to which I do so, but I have no idea where the threshold is.

5. Since science fiction options seem to be allowed, I want to control the rate at which time passes, like having a remote control. Running late or need a nap? Press pause. Bored and can't wait until something that's scheduled for later? Press fast forward.

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Do as much stuff in any given period of time as normal people do.

Oh goddess, me too.

I want to control the rate at which time passes, like having a remote control.

Me too double. My private symbol for being bored is miming pressing an invisible remote.

I've also felt this in relation to your #2. "I know I'll feel better after enough time passes, could I just skip ahead to that point now please?"