– But often, in the world's most crowded streets,
But often, in the din of strife,
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire,
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us--to know
Whence our lives come and where they go –
The Buried Life by Matthew Arnold – 1852
I was in grade 12 when I first heard about Jonnie, Dave, Duncan, Ben and The Buried Life. They were a group of guys from Victoria, BC. with a camera and old RV and a list of things to do before they died. Not a particularly new idea. There have been plenty of movies exercising the idea of achieving everything you want before your time is up. As a young person I was constantly thinking about all the things I would do when I grew up and as a graduating high school student the future was on my mind that much more. My ticking time bomb that was called life was nothing new to me. We all have limited time here and I knew that. How to make the most of my time here was what I didn't quite understood just yet.
What caught my attention was not the idea of achieving my goals. It wasn't the fact that the four guys developed an entertaining, trending TV show. Nor was it that they were young and easily relatable. It was the shared idea that: "The pace and superficiality of modern life were robbing us of a healthy level of ambition; we were settling for mediocrity because no alternative seemed feasible. Boy bands were our music, and reality television our entertainment.. Mediocrity was all we knew. We were buried. Lost. Detached from the promise of growing up. All prepared for adulthood, without even the vocabulary to express it." (The Buried Life p. 8-9)
Society was teaching me to go to school, get good grades, begin a career, get married and have a few kids. It sounded appealing, and I wanted this. But I also wanted my daydreams to be more than simply daydreams. I wanted to see the world, meet new people, be adventurous and break the rules. Being a shy kid with few words, going after these daydreams made me want to vomit. I had made a safe cocoon in my comfort zone, among people I felt comfortable with and had spent the last 17 years there. Stepping out of that cocoon, seemed impossible and risky. Following the advice of society seemed safe and responsible, something that I could do comfortably and achieve simply. So that's what I did. Until I first heard of The Buried Life.
The Buried Life boys were in a rut, much like my own. They were searching for something more and couldn't find it in the world around them. So they asked themselves: If anything were possible, what do you want to do before you die? And then they went and did it.
1. Open the six o'clock news
11. Get a college degree
16. Drive Across North America
17. Start a huge wave
26. Tell a judge: "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth."
38. Kiss the Stanley Cup
50. Streak a stadium and get away with it
58. See a dead body
66. Walk the Red Carpet
88. Survive on a deserted island
94. Party with a rock star
97. Get into a fight
As I watched The Buried Life go about achieving their bucket list, one thing stuck out to me the most. With every item that they crossed off their list, they promised to achieve the goals of a complete stranger. This motivated and inspired me and gave me a new perspective. I could now see the world and its occupants as one. We were all facing the same battle, trying to find meaning and purpose in this crazy, confusing world, often getting lost and buried in our own day to day activities. With this new perspective, I realized that anything was possible.
I no longer viewed my dreams as being too big or too small – it wasn't a competition and there was no pressure. Size and extravagance did not matter. When I am older became an excuse of the past. As did: in the new year. When I have more money. After I have a family. I now knew that my dreams could be achieved right now. The only thing that was holding me back was myself, and my preconceived idea of how life should be lived. I was motivated to break my shy, introverted shell. I wanted to start living a fulfilling life and begin my journey down a path that I had chosen for myself. Not one set out by society. I wanted to to travel the world. I wanted a fulfilling career that allowed me to create and to inspire others, like The Buried Life had done for me. I wanted to be noticed for my talents and passions. I wanted to make new friends, see new things, go on adventures and change people's lives. I wanted to be confident, independent, comfortable in my own skin and able to march to my own drum. I wanted to be me.
So I asked myself: What do you want to do before you die?
I'm sure that this constantly asked question finds itself occupying the minds of millions daily. We wish and daydream. We think and hope, for that someday, in which we can achieve our unique bucket lists. But somehow, someday turns into tomorrow, and tomorrow turns into next week and our dreams get buried in the day to day activities of life. Somehow, someday has found itself among the seven days of the week, a place in which it does not belong.
Many people have personal revelations. A moment of aaahhha, hallelujah, where the fog seems to clear and the answers are within arms reach. I believe mine occurred back in grade 12 when I stumbled upon The Buried Life. Watching their show and hearing their stories seemed to open my eyes to all of my potential and the possibilities that life could offer me and I could offer the world. Once the seed was planted inside of me, my mind was made up. I had dreams; big and small, and many that scared the crap out of me. But I wanted to chase them – needed to chase them with every ounce of passion and confidence I possessed.
Every dream that I chase shapes me into the person I am today, and the person I will be tomorrow, next week and a year from now. Every accomplished goal provides experience for the future. Every new person I meet and adventure I set on sparks my imagination. I guess you could say, I owe it to The Buried Life for bringing me to this point of self revelation; to a turning point in which I choose life over fear and asked myself:
What do I want to do before I die...
1. Get married
12. Go ice skating in Central Park
33. Go back to Haiti and volunteer
54. Be an extra in a movie of a music video
65. Meet Adam Levine
66. Get tickets to the Ellen Degeneres Show
77. Move to a different country
98. Change someone's life
101. Have a design career that impacts the world positively
109. Achieve my curly hair goals
120. Travel the world
121. Go to a drive-in movie
132. Have a family
140. Visit Stonehenge
163. Grow old with someone I love
214. Inspire before I expire...
What do you want to do before you die?