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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

To Do List

Apparently and for no reason at all my sense of mortality reasserted itself the other day. Instead of feeling down or in any way depressed I summoned a few loose ideas lounging and skulking around the neglected corners of my mind. I wanted to put a plan of action together and accordingly I ended up with an outline of what I have to do as soon as I own more of myself and before I indubitably bite the dust. I have my doubts that I'll be able to achieve them all. I'll be very happy if I can ultimately look behind knowing that I've accomplished four out of these seven goals.

1- See all the wonderful places I haven't had the chance to travel to yet, in particular to the Far East, South Africa and Brazil/Argentina. I don't remember a destination I haven't enjoyed. Perhaps there are a couple of places I wouldn't wish to go back to but I don't ever regret a first time visit. Of course I have only been to less than 1/4th of the roughly 195 countries in the world and I would love to have the chance to go to each and every single one remaining. Yet the continents of Asia, Africa and South America are my primary targets.

2- TIBET. I can't group it along in a wish list of travel destinations. I have to go on a pilgrimage to Tibet and embark on a trekking expedition through this mysterious land. I need to see the Himalayas. I'm certain I don't have it in me to climb Mount Everest, but I have to see it, even if from afar. As for hiking uphill for a couple of weeks, I'm still a good bet for your money. I can hang in there with kids half my age. I want to rest and sleep in a secluded monastery. There are a few things I need to talk with God about and I want to perform my own prayer from the roof of the world.

3- I should get me a bike, powerful/comfortable/capable enough to haul my ass from Tartous to Gibraltar across Europe then back home by way of Morocco through North Africa. This is, relatively speaking, the easy part. First, I must push hard on my public relations skills to convince my wife and kids that I'm neither crazy nor selfish. I'd like them to understand that this is as imperative to me as visiting Paris in the comfort of an airliner is to them. Besides, failing to fulfill a logistically difficult yet plausible desire for the wrong reasons will make me feel that I didn't quite do it my way in life.

4- Enough roving like a wild beast! I plan to retire from quotidian work by the age of 55. I don't intend on sitting on my ass and do nothing, not yet that is. But I don't want to wake up every morning and perform robotic motions then head to an office (or two as is my present case). I'd rather work when I feel up to it. When I direly miss executing the specialized chores I'm proficient at and when I approve of the client then I wouldn't mind putting in some hours. How I am going to spend my time then, you might wonder. Let's go further down the list.

5- I'm determined that my reading must take precedence over every other single activity, mental or physical. If I accumulate all the hours I could've used to read but chose to waste on other menial and passive activities I would end up with a good number of years. I want to have a maximum break of 2 days in between books.

6- I'd like to open a small restaurant in Tartous. Six, may be seven tables that's all. This little place should be a statement on my behalf: a subtle, quiet, cozy, private, inspiring and liberal haven. I want to spend my evenings there in a corner with friends or chatting with regular clients. The menu would be straightforward, exotic yet authentically local. I don't fancy serving what is certainly better prepared in Italy or elsewhere. There will be a plat du jour and a limited number of house specialties. No way to get lost anymore, you know where to find me.

7- With all the free time on my hand I should be able to seriously start writing. There is a novel, perhaps two, in me that I would like to unload on an unsuspecting world. I feel guilty for postponing this personal objective for so long. However, it really is difficult to break the chain and take the courageous decision to stop it all, at least for the time being. I need to start doing this, the sooner the better.

Come to think of it, this post is more befitting of a tag. I'd like to tag every reader/blogger to:

Write down your own TO DO LIST before you ultimately ... bite the dust.

33 comments:

Arima said...

You're such a big kid with all your 'roving like a wild beast'! Pretty admirable and fun looking list of mortal ambitions though...I think it will take me a little time to mull over what I 'really' want to do- if I manage it then I'm officially set for the rest of my life! It's a nice challenge for a blog post and a total life rehaul though :)

bint battuta said...

I made just such a list recently - after watching the film 'The Bucket List'. It was an atrocious film (even though it starred Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson), but at least it inspired me to compose my list of all the things I wanted to do before I 'kicked the bucket' myself...

Anonymous said...

Your tag made me think...

In reality, what I have accomplished or not does not worry me. It seems to me that I have done everything possible to lead a good life. I have enjoyed much. I have accomplished my best until now. I have had good times and bad times, and few regrets. I would like to say I have NO regrets, but I think that would be ludicrous. It would make me perfect and I am most definetly not.

My accomplishments might not be impressive, but for me they are importnat. I am happy and it seems to me I have made my husband and daughters happy.

I am content... So I will take the rest of my life as it comes and I'm not making a list.

w.b. yeats

KJ said...

You're such a great inspiration my friend! Your list is very - VERY - realistic actually. A few years back I was in Safita and there was this guy who biked (as in bicycle, not motorbike) his way from France and his goal was to see the Citadel! It took him 3 months. I bet it was the time of his life

abufares said...

@arima
What good would any person be if there\'s no kid inside.
I look forward reading your own list and soon.

abufares said...

@bint battuta
You didn\'t post your list on your blog, did you?
I find it to be an interesting subject, even for the younger generation. I really would like to know.

abufares said...

@w.b. yeats
Cula
We\'ve been on parallel roads you and I. My list, however, is about the things I want to do for myself. Not for the kids, not for the wife, not for others. As you\'ve noticed my wishes are simple and have no direct implications on others, except writing a book and opening up a restaurant... if I\'m not careful I might cause diarrhea and food poisoning to scores of people :-)
My list is comprised of very personal objectives that I have put off on a shelf because I\'m a part of a family and as such I had to fulfill my role and obligations.
May be one day (I seriously doubt that I\'ll make it by 55) I can do the things that mean a lot to me without feeling guilty or without actually causing harm to others who depend on me.
I miss you :-)

abufares said...

@KJ
Sometimes the simplest of wishes are not realized by virtue of being simple = meaningless.
My list is very realistic indeed and very achievable when and if I\'m removed out of the family context. It becomes a little bit more complicated once you\'re married but more significantly once you have children. May be I\'m making too much of it and it\'s possible that being a little selfish wouldn\'t seriously hurt anyone. But, I\'m not that kind of person. I hate worries. When I ultimately want to do something entirely for myself I want to feel totally free and guiltless.

Sean said...

1) You're certainly doing much better than me! I've only managed 1/8th of the world...
3) Great minds think alike: that's also a dream of Emma and I. All around every single country of the Mediterranean rim in a convertible! It's not so crazy.
6) We'll be there with bells on. I hope all your wishes come true, but this one I hope comes true due to vested self-interest ;-)

Anonymous said...

Abufares, I would say that my (imposible) wish is to go back to the past , to my beutifull UFRATES, to the ASI, to AFRIN, to SAJUR, to KHABOUR to BLIKH, and the smallest and sweetest river of Halab, Kweik river, you may say that this is only (saudade-HANIN) perhaps, all these rivers are dead, and the population is still growing,
lĂȘ

Ammoontie said...

I have a long "To Do" list... of which I never get to accomplished. The fact of which I am not proud of. Still it is never too late to start on that first dot.

Anonymous said...

Do not missunderstand me, I know what you're aiming for with your list, and if anything it shows your interest in life, the world and the basic feeling of being in-tune with it in a very personal way.

I think I'm getting old... When I was in high-school my dream was sailing around the world in my own sailboat. After having the pleasure of owning a beautiful J-36 boat and cruising the Virgin Islands, that dream is off my list! Sailing is great, very romantic, the rhythm of the ocean, the wind on your face, it is keeping the boat ship-shape and the hurricane season that is a hassel!

Needless to say we sold our boat. We miss it sometimes, but most of the times we are happy to know that it is someone else's headache! : )

As of travelling I have done my share, and even made it to Kenya for a Picture safari. I celebrated 2000 new year's eve in the middle of the Masai Mara with Masais dancing around me and animals surrounding our camp. It was wonderful! I still have not managed to get my ass to the Middle East, but I know somehow I will. Europe, South America, North America, and the Caribbean have been most of my destinations. So I guess, the Midlle East, the Orient, Australia, New Zealand are big on my travelling plans. I just don't dwell on it, if I make it fine...

Do I have a wish list? I just can think of anything right now. Maybe, my own Art Show somewhere well known... I'm working towards that. But, in reality THIS is not that easy, so any little gallery will have to do.

You see, I'm getting old and boring. Ha!

w.b. yeats

PS. you will most definitly reach old age, and will write your book. I can see you...

abufares said...

@Sean
In a convertible!?
That would be great.
And, when you come through Tartous pick me up and we\'ll go to another place lost in the middle of nowhere.

abufares said...

@lĂȘ
I go back to the past almost every night before falling asleep. But this is the stuff of dreams. Our Balad is not as it used to be. We have terribly abused our environment, landscape and wildlife.
We can stop the hands of time and even go back by overhauling our behavioral patterns, mainly reproducing less as a first step.

abufares said...

@Ammoontie
My 7 wishes are simple enough yet of importance to me. My wife wouldn\'t mind going with me to the destinations I chose, including Tibet. But she\'d rather go to Europe instead although she\'s been there several times before.
My point is that the difficulty, at the moment, in fulfilling my list is a result of me not being free to do as I please. Nobody will mind them as long as they don\'t interfere with what common sense calls more important \"duties\".
I undertake performing my duties seriously and without complaint. But every once in a while the \"tiger\" in me breaks the mental restraints and I speak out. The truth of the matter is that economic reality presently controls what I can or can\'t do. Simple mathematics.

Karin said...

Didn't you say just reacently you and I are made of the same kind of dust? It must be true as I can relate to every single pint you write!

I was in Nepal, didn't see Mount Everest per se but, from the distance those HUGE mountains there (in Kathmandu Valley) which are not MUCH smaller ...
We had PLANNED to hike up to everest basecamp, had all the necssary equipment with us but were some two weeks late in the season! monsoon was close and the Rhododendron forests on the way packed with tiny bloodsuckers which crawl (let tgemselves fall once they sense the warmth of a body) everywhere ... that was reason enough for me to bail out!

The bike thing ... YUMMY!!! 500% up my alley!! I loooove big bikes!!

Reading, writing, traveling . YES, YES and absolutely YES!!
I am missing entire South America, Africa as continent (I went to Sinai for diving in the Red Sea) and Australia - AND the FAR East of course!

And opening a small restaurant was already on my list ... I would LOVE to do it but lack the resources.

You see ... SAME kind of mud all over again!

I'll be in touch! :-)

abufares said...

@w.b. yeats
the things i\'d like to do eventually require that i have less commitments (i.e. the kids have grown up). The 3 related to travel have one thing in common. i\'m not really interested in the recreational aspect of the voyage but rather in the cultural and human facets. don\'t get me wrong, i love a good time, any time but my choice of destinations reflects my need to learn and further educate myself. the remaining 4 require a certain degree of a life change and they really have one thing in common: FREE TIME.

abufares said...

@Karin
Of course we\'re the same in so many ways.
You wrote: \"And opening a small restaurant was already on my list ... I would LOVE to do it but lack the resources\".
That\'s basically what\'s stopping me at the moment from going after my wish list. Resources being time and money. I can\'t dedicate the time for the list because I have to dedicate it to make money to fulfill the little things that make up a life: A family life that is.
Please stay in touch and tell me what you\'ve been up to.

Anonymous said...

Free Time...
it may come sooner than you think. Even though my daughters are not independent yet, they do not live at home. One is at College and the other at Boarding School. The house is in complete silence most of the day, except for two crazy parrots that keep me company. : 0

So, you could say that I find myself with a lot of free time...

Now, managing your free time will be the tricky part, because as I've found out there is always time to procrastinate when oneself's needs are involved. Many little details can become important all of a sudden. Should I be rid of all the things that tie me down? The home, the garden, the pets, the every day routine of paying the bills, going to the supermarket, the bank, the post office... Should I be really selfish and expect someone else to keep me together for a change? When will I shed all these commitments off? Knowing me, I will be a 100 and I will still feel responsible for the family and the family life. (unless I get Alzheimers, God forebid!!!)

So maybe your list will help setting the rode for some "Quality Time", not free time. I certainly hope so. And, when you DO get to ride your super bike, write your book, open your Petit Restaurant, and all those wonderful free spirited ideas, remember all your good friends that are stuck in indecision limbo and send us some pictures!

I never thought you wanted to travel ONLY to have a good time. I think always of you as an intelectual. Maybe a little crazy sometimes, but always the intelectual.

For now, just remember that anything good is worth working for, and keep all your wishes at glance...

I've written too much. Blah... : )

w.b. yeats

Arima said...

This is so much harder than I imagined...I'm trying to come up with mu own list but failing miserabley. It's not that I don't have a to do list just that it s hard to know where to start and how to prioritise- might have to come back to this in 10 years or so *sigh*
Still...it's got me thinking :)

Anonymous said...

Abufares, I learned somthing very important (BE CAREFUL OF YOUR WISH IT MAY COME TRUE, AND IT IS NOT ALWAYS THE WAY YOU IMAGENED TO BE ) based on this I tried to create a routine (the good one) rotine ia just like colesterol, there is the good and bad one,and my rotine is simple and easy and cheep, ofcouse you need some extra time, and that´s how, I make my days enjoyebl,

DUBAI JAZZ said...

What a great 'to-do' list. I must tell you Abu Fares that I am quite happy that you finally made up your mind about writing. Maybe you've already made the private resolution but the announcement alone calls for a toast! Time is ripe my friend. I am certain that you will produce a great material.

In a follow up to the anonymous comment posted above: I must disagree. Yes, maybe when a certain thing is pursued for the fuss it has around it (like teens eager to have sex because it's all over the media) then they might get disappointed and come across with the impression that it is overrated. But when a person has a genuine passion in mind then nothing can stop him/her form enjoying it!

abufares said...

@Anonymous
@ Dubai Jazz
The fulfillment of wishes detracts from their value. Strange but somehow true.
In my case, and since my wishes are rather easy to achieve given the availability of resources (time & money)attaining them would not result in any significant change, positive or negative on me as a person. When and if they become true I wouldn\'t be more or less Abufares (me).
Take note that I meant that writing is easy but that doesn\'t necessarily mean that the result is worthwhile.
I have accomplished stranger aspirations before. I felt good then and I still feel good about it today.
May be I should write about one of them.
SOON:-)

david santos said...

Excellent, my friend, excellent!
have a nice day

Lujayn said...

Abu Fares, although the 7 items on your to-do list may change along the way, your attitude is spot on. We all need something to look forward to, dreams that rev our sometimes routine, even mundane lives. Its amazing that you've got 7 dreams that power you on. I dont know if I can muster 3! I might just take you up on the tag and dream up my own action plan.

Fadfood said...

well getting a more powerful bike is a good idea. just don't fall off and brake 7 ribs because it changes how you look at riding.

maybe from the history of this blog you start writing a book about an adventurer and where his vision took him. just an idea, i mean book writers only make millions of dollars right.

abufares said...

@david santos
always a pleasure seeing you around here. thank you my friend.

abufares said...

@lujayn
to tell you the truth... these dreams don't power me on at all. i look forward doing them one day. meanwhile, i still have many more "hard riding" miles to cover before i can dedicate myself for their fulfillment.

abufares said...

@fadfood
nice of you to drop by:-)
i have already broken my ribs, not seven, but several of them, on a relatively puny bike. motorcycles are like women... they are both dangerous... regardless of their size ;-)

Fadfood said...

lol yes i like that analogy very true, i guess it's true what they say "let the bike ride you don't ride the bike"

MomTo5 said...

first time here!

abufares said...

@momto5
thank you for your visit and for leaving your comments on my other posts.
I checked your blog and although it\'s written in Swedish and I couldn\'t understand a word, I love your photos.
You\'re welcome to drop by any time.

MomTo5 said...

thank you!
so much to read here and its very intresting.nice photos to.
i am in Sweden just to visit my family but i will be back in august and wonder,were are the best beach ,Latakia or Tartous hehe.
i think i know the answear.