I had this idea to make a map of places to visit in the United States that are the “capitol” of something or have a unique attraction, but I couldn’t think of what to call it. I talked this list up for over a week and still couldn’t come up with a name. When I was explaining this list to my younger son while washing dishes last night I said, it’s essentially a list of things I wouldn’t hate to do. That garnered me an odd look (trust me, I’m used that) but it got me to thinking about bucket lists…
I have this thing about “bucket lists”: they rub me the wrong way. Really, really rub me the wrong way. I can appreciate the concept of them–there are many things out there that you’d like to do and you’re going to make a list and check them off before you die. I suppose it’s the dying part that gets to me. Does making this list wrapped up with death somehow make you get to it faster or maybe take it more seriously? I’m not so sure. It takes a certain person or maybe a life-threatening or life-altering event for most people to make that work. Maybe not. I don’t know anyone who actively engages with their bucket list, meaning doing and checking things off, but I sure know a lot of people who talk about their bucket list or someone else’s bucket list. Maybe part of the problem is not the list but the non-productive talk.
I love lists. I make all sorts of lists, “official”; casual; non-sensical. I like to write things down. I like to check things off, but I also know that I’ll start lists and not complete them. I’ll start multiple lists in different places–that both bothers me because of the disorganization of it all but also delights me; it’s a pleasant “surprise” to find something you’ve written to yourself. The synchronicity of finding a random list or note “telling” you what you need in that particular moment can be astounding.
I suppose the point is we while away our days and don’t do the things we’d really like to do. Things that might be outside of the box and things we’ve denied ourselves for whatever reason. I understand that. I could use a lot of corralling and a list is an excellent reminder that there are things you forget that you want to do. I’ve actually thought about starting a restaurant list because creature of habit that I can be, I forget about these new places I’d like to try and when I actually remember? They’ve closed. Then I feel bad that I wasn’t able to support them. Restaurants tend to be fairly brief in their lifespan. We, too, are brief in our lifespans. 🙁
With that being said, my list isn’t wrapped around death. I can be morbid, but that’s not a motivator for me. I like whimsical, oddities, and unique. I also like to give people grief, so I tentatively named my “want to do and visit” list Things I wouldn’t hate to do. It’s not rude like you might be thinking, either. I can get super excited about things as well as super disappointed. “I wouldn’t hate to do that” is a nod to understanding that all is not as it seems. I recognize that the item on the list could be disappointing and I may not get anyone to “ride with me” on that adventure, but that there’s a gem inside of all that somewhere. The tone of voice when I speak about that list is a calm statement of fact. Underneath that statement of fact is the gleeful knowledge that I’m going to find some sort of gem and/or joy in the doing or seeing. Even if it turns into something I jokingly reference (although I don’t necessarily want someone’s pride and joy to become my punchline).
The funny thing about this list is that it has kind of been brewing in my mind for a long while. It began to take shape with a trip to Oatman, AZ that I was actually very excited to do: see donkeys overrunning the streets of Oatman. What happened was the trip getting there was more valuable than the actual visit to this village (yes, village! That’s how Google classified it–bonus points for that.) The town itself? Pretty disappointing. Something had happened so there were only a handful of donkeys milling about, and they were ornery. Sigh. However, we encountered Ashfork, AZ which is the center of flagstone production, a kind of “self-proclaimed” capitol as one source termed it. LOL. Self-proclaimed, now that’s a hoot. It’s bold and I like it. When we were driving through, it’s on Route 66, we stopped at Ashford’s little volunteer museum. Just Chia and I. It was an accidental route and probably the real foundation of the Things I wouldn’t hate to do list. Was it great museum? No. But the ladies were so accommodating and friendly that it was an experience that Chia hadn’t had before. He was served up a helping of small town goodness and acts of kindness to strangers.
So maybe that’s why I steer clear of bucket lists. My Things I wouldn’t hate to do and the bucket list both have a “live life” kind of zeal to it, but my list is about connecting, seeing, and experiencing. Finding the oddities, unique, and whimsical as well as the things that others are proud of or are a claim to fame for them. It’s kind of less about me and more about getting to know my fellow people and (hopefully) my fellow weirdos.
I’ve recently added Gainesville, GA to the list. It’s the chicken capitol of the United States. I’ve also added Hutton, TX to the list: “Hippo capital of the United States.” These two were added on a lovely trip to Austin, TX where Chief and I visited with old friends and met some new ones–they told me about these places, respectively.
So I ask you–what unique places should I add to this list? I’d love to hear about them and from you!