I have become somewhat known for the state of my bucket list. It’s the way I introduce myself at events, it gets mentioned when I see old friends or meet family for dinner, and tends to occupy my thoughts more often than not. The version here on my blog is in need of an update (must do that soon), but even without adding all the new things that haven’t quite made their way onto the official version, it’s a huge and unwieldy beast. It’s quite un-tamable; every time I am fortunate enough to tick something off it, I end up adding a whole load of other things to the bottom. It includes a huge variety of things that are not only adventure or outdoors related, but that come under a number of categories that should keep me going for a very long time.
While sometimes I do look at it and wonder what on earth I’ve done by writing it all down and therefore setting myself up to fail (there is no way I’ll ever tick everything off, even if I had all the time and money in the world), the vast majority of the time it provides me with inspiration and motivation to get out and get on.
I was recently featured in an online article for International Women’s Day for which one of the questions was “what are the top three things on your bucket list”. And actually the top thing on my list, my ultimate bucket list dream, is very easy for me to talk about. I’ve been asked a number of times other than for that particular article, and I happily give the exact same answer every time. It trips off the tongue instantly and without thought, and has not changed for a good number of years. What is it? Well…
My ultimate bucket list dream is to touch both the North Pole and the South Pole.
It’s as simple as that sentence is short. I don’t know or mind how, don’t have any particular desire to make it one long expedition travelling between the two, and don’t even mind if I get to each under my own steam or via some form of magical engine powered flying machine. I did originally think I could ride a motorbike to each in some super adventurous “first woman to” style situation, but while that would be SO cool, when I think about it I would be so deeply happy just to go and be there regardless of the level of adventure others considered me to be having.
There is something about the cold and icy landscape of the Arctic and Antarctic that draws me in and takes over my thoughts at night. My favourite places in the world are cold, covered in ice and have a pretty glow about them that changes as the light moves across the sky. I find the landscape and wildlife of each Pole totally fascinating and yearn to see it for myself. I imagine myself stood in the middle of a massive sheet of white ice, under a clear sky, looking out into the distance and seeing nothing at all other than more ice and more sky. I imagine sitting still and quiet while watching penguins waddle about and huge whales breach. I imagine standing on a boat crashing through ice and swaying with the swell. I imagine grabbing a camera and getting the most awesome trig point selfie of my life.
Ice and snow in Ruka, Finland.
But when I speak of my dream I am instantly dismissive. It’s just so huge. I mean, other than suddenly finding myself with a shed load of money from a random or unknown source, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I mean, as a 36-year-old full-time employed communications professional with no spare cash or time and very little expedition experience. My knowledge of both the Arctic and Antarctic is limited to what I read in magazines and see on television documentaries, and I don’t know anyone who has been to either. I wonder if it is worth me spending any more minutes thinking about this thing than I have done already? Some people have said, “just make it happen” and the like, but really, how?!
But this is exactly the point of my bucket list. Yes this particular dream is probably out of my reach, at least this week, but a whole load of the other things on that very same list are already in the diary. Last weekend alone I cycled down a hardcore mountain bike run, climbed down a hole in the middle of a field and crawled through some caves, and shot a gun at some flying clay discs (blogs on each coming just as soon as I find time to write them!). Bucket lists, dreams, wishes, whatever you want to call them, are meant to challenge us. They are meant to inspire us. They are meant to occupy our thoughts at night and fill us with excitement. They are meant to worry us and make us question our sanity. They are meant to motivate and inspire us to do things only we think are possible.
Tandem skydive, a bucket list favourite.
I would even go as far as saying that bucket lists are meant to be self indulgent. And that is okay. There is nothing wrong at all in wanting something for yourself, for writing it down, and then for making plans to make that thing happen.
You might think that my dream of wanting to touch both the North Pole and the South Pole – to get the best trig point selfie possible – is a bit of a silly thing to be at the top of my bucket list. You might be right, especially as I openly admit I’m not actually expecting to ever tick this one off. But the idea of a bucket list for me means that I can dream silly dreams and in doing so create a whole host of opportunities for me to try new things and create memories that I couldn’t even have imagined when I was younger.
You never know, dreaming of visiting the North Pole may mean I find a way to take part in an expedition in the Arctic circle to see polar bears and the Northern Lights. It may mean I get to have a play on the Triumph concept ice bike they showed at Motorcycle Live last November. It may mean I save up my pennies and get a place on a ship travelling through the Antarctic. It may mean I get to sleep in an igloo. It may mean I can kayak through broken ice. It may simply mean I get to sleep well at night with wonderful dreams of amazing scenery for company.
Now, if someone fancies helping me…
I’d really love to hear what your ultimate bucket list dream is. Write it below, say it out loud. I’m not going to hold you to account or make you feel stupid, whether it sounds super easy or the most difficult thing in the whole world. I simply want you to get excited about your dream and share it with others. You never know, there might be someone else here who can help make it happen.
And if you have any suggestions of things that should be on my bucket list, because there is always room for more, drop a comment below and let me know!