I don't usually get headaches. (Photo to the left is not me.) So when I woke up at 4 a.m. for the third consecutive day with a splitting pain in the back of my skull, I drew the logical conclusion: terminal brain tumor. The next obvious step in my thinking was to start my "bucket list," (all the things one has never done and would like to do before "kicking the bucket.")

A common item for a lot of people, for whatever reason, is skydiving. But I don't need to do that; I've already leaped off a cliff in Brazil strapped to a hang glider and had the experience of freefall and flight. I only needed to do it once. It doesn't get better than landing on Ipanema. (I knew a girl from there once, tall and tan.)

I've already tried scuba diving. Under the water. Did it.

Been to a lap dancer in a seedy club in San Francisco. Been there. Her name was Angel, and she told me she was pursuing a career in science. Angel wasn't her real name. I believe her real name was Desiree.

Threw up multiple times in the Amazon after ingesting ayahuasca, the trendy shamanic concoction, so I'm covered on that front.

Nearly froze to death sleeping alone on the top of Mt. Sinai, talking to God all night, who, unlike my therapist, never even gave me so much as an, "Uh-huh. Say more about that." I realized that the Jewish God is a great "listener," which is not really what I look for in a God.

By 4:20 a.m., I still had nothing on my bucket list. Everything I thought of, I'd already tried, and over and over again, I found that having just one experience of most activities in life was sufficient to get the gist. Excluding orgasms, I guess.
 
Did the high ropes course. Led the high ropes course, until they fired me for "Failure to reassure boss that you won't accidentally kill anybody."

Hiked to the top of a Himalayan peak in thigh-deep snow. Saw God there. How could I have known when I was at Sinai that God was on a backpacking trip through India? If God had met Moses in India, we'd have no Ten Commandments, He would have just said "Namaste."

Met the Dalai Lama, Sai Baba, Muktananda, Satchidananda, Kriyananda -- the entire Ananda family.

Prayed at Dachhau and meditated for ten days at Auschwitz. Talk about a vacation. I know how to have a good time.

Swam with dolphins -- who completely ignored me -- watched the whales, got married.

Oh, I just remembered one: I never had children! Jees, how did I forget that one? Is it too late? I'm 59. Shari's 51. We're pretty good about watering our plants, for the most part. We nearly always feed the cats. Can we handle a child? How often do you have to feed them? Are they expensive? How do you explain "Peak Oil" to them, and at what age?

I never had a threesome. Are they any better than twosomes, which I've never been crazy about in the first place? I was once given a birthday present: a massage by five beautiful young women. I discovered that it wasn't nearly as pleasurable as getting massaged by one person. More isn't always better. Nevertheless, if my hand is forced, I'd be willing to try a threesome.

Okay, I'm on a roll. Never been a Zen monk in Kyoto, never cycled through New Zealand, never started a business in Pago Pago. (Although I was once informed by an "astro-cartographer," who superimposed my astrological chart onto a world map, that my "career line" went right through Pago Pago, and that that's where I would find true worldly success. And I always thought it was because I've never liked working.)

I always wanted to own a giraffe, but apparently the zoning laws in Richmond, Virginia prohibit large African mammals in the backyard. Still, there must be a way. I once actually inquired at a zoo about the cost of a baby giraffe, and the lady tried to talk me out of it, and (for real) did a hard sell on a camel. Said they were much easier to care for. And insisted that giraffes are dangerous, that they could kill you with one swift kick of their hind leg. You never hear much about giraffe-inflicted deaths, but believe me, it goes on.

I never read War and Peace, but I still don't want to, brain tumor or no brain tumor. Too many Russian names in the first 50 pages. Plus, I'd spend the rest of my life reading.

Already been in a hot-air balloon, on my 40th birthday. Never sailed around the world, and I have been meaning to do that, although I don't know how to sail. Okay, maybe not the whole world. Just across a lake and back. But I want to run into the natives in the bush somewhere who have never seen a white man. Do they have lakes in the bush? Where exactly is the bush? And while I'm considering things I don't know, why is there no blue jello?

I've never been the President or Prime Minister of a small nation state. How does one get into that line of work at my age? You probably have to know someone. Are all the countries already accounted for? Is anyone in charge of, say, Uruguay?  You never hear anything about the President of Uruguay. Maybe they need my help down there.

I always wanted to be in a movie, preferably an erotic thriller starring Scarlet Johannson. I can act. I played the little kid in MacLeish's "J.B." when I was in seventh grade. He got run over by a car in the first act. Off stage.

And I always wanted to be a rock and roll star. I was in a band called "The Rash" in tenth grade; our theme song was "Poison Ivy."  I can play the lead guitar solo from "Louie Louie," which my crazy old friend Billy used to insist was just a nickname, that the original, real song title was "Louis, Louis."

How come on TV when there's a little kid dying, Babe Ruth or someone shows up in the hospital room, or the kid gets to go on a spaceship, but when it's a 59-year-old Jewish guy that just wants to be president of a small country, nobody comes to visit?

Ah well, three Tylenol seemed to do the trick for my headache, so for the moment, I needed to put my Bucket List on hold, and get on with the important things of the day: I had to pick up some photos at CVS, shave, return those pants with the faulty zipper, and write a blog post for Psychology Today thinking maybe it would get some random reader to buy my book. (Hint: The 99th Monkey.)

About the Author

Eliezer Sobel

Eliezer Sobel is an author, musician, and retreat leader.

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