50s Bucket List

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This is going to be a really, really long post, even longer than yesterday’s, and it will become the basis for a static page as well, so there will always be somewhere to look and keep myself honest about progress here. You may or may not want to read the whole thing in one go. This is sort of paired with yesterday’s post (#50at50) but covers very different ground.

The idea of a bucket list isn’t a new one, even for me. I’ve had one since I was about 40, but I haven’t made a lot of progress on it. Some, but not nearly as much as I’d like to have by now. In fairness to myself, the last decade has been a lot about taking care of my family. That doesn’t necessarily change going forward, but the needs of individuals have changed and will continue to. My youngest child is 17 now (soon to be 18) and the oldest is 22. They don’t need me for nearly as much as they used to. We’re probably at a point where I need them a lot more than they need me.

This is sort of a sub-Bucket list, a list of things I want to do before my 60th birthday, and it seems fitting that there should be 50 items on it. 50 Things to Do in My 50s. I know other people have done similar things, made similar lists, because as soon as I came up with the idea, I knew it couldn’t be original and I started googling. In the end, though, rather than following something someone else has done or picking bits and pieces from several someone else’s, I chose to rearrange my bucket list and pick 50 things from it that might be achievable in the next ten years.

With no stress attached. Things can change. Life can change. Mine did very much this year, along with a lot of other people’s, and that’s going to carry me forward for quite a while.

For the purpose of keeping track of things and keeping related goals at least sort of together, I’ve broken things down into 8 areas. That 8 could easily have been more but they’re also hard to narrow down any further. Alphabetically (which is how they’ll list below): Creative, Education, Experience, Family, Life, Physical, Professional, Travel.

Looking at the individual things on the list, we’ll go category by category, and I’m just numbering from here to the end. They’re mostly in no particular order inside the categories.


I’ve considered myself a creative person for most of my life. I’ve hit some major life goals here and I’ve got a lot more I want to accomplish before lying down for the last time. And I want to do quite a few new things in the next few years.

  1. Learn to Play At Least One Instrument – in fits and starts, I’ve made tiny bits of progress here for years. Sometimes on the Tenor Sax, sometimes on the guitar, more recently on the Recorder. There’s also a flute hanging around the house somewhere. I need to pick one to focus on.
  2. Invent a Table Top Game. I actually have a few thoughts on this that I’ve never pursued. One of them involves Pyramids.
  3. Go to an Art Camp For Adults. These have started to pop up more and more in recent years and I’ve always wanted to see if I can actually develop a little drawing ability.
  4. Do Community Theatre. I’ve done a little voice acting in the past and I’ve long since gotten over speaking in front of a group, although doing it in front of a crowd in a dark theatre might be something different.
  5. Be a Movie Extra. How fun would that be? The long days, the crappy hours, the standing around waiting. But I’d be in a movie, and how cool is that?
  6. Produce a Movie. Something I’ve talked about before. This is likely to either be a short film in a speculative fiction vein or a short documentary. I’ve got some thoughts in both directions. Maybe there will be more than one.
  7. Start a Podcast Empire. There are, including fiction, seven different podcasts I’d like to do. Fiction, I could do for years. For the other six, I’ve got between six and a hundred possible episodes. It would be awfully cool to get a couple of these up and running.
  8. Run a Play Competition. This was an idea I had the germ of when the girls were in high school and one was active in drama club with the other considering it. Hold a writing contest for one-act plays, put the scripts in front of a panel of judges, produce the top 3 (or 5, or whatever). I could see doing this in an audio drama format, too.


We’re all in school in some fashion, or at least learning, for our entire lives. The pace and type of learning might change, but it’s there. I’m moving back into formal education as of May, so that’s really what this is looking at.

  • Graduate from University. In my youth, I was an indifferent student at best, and not finishing university has made a lot of things harder in years since. I’ve regretted not finishing, and the way I left things, for a long time, but this is a regret I can fix. At this moment, I have a clear path to be back in university, and at Full Time studies sooner than I had the right to expect. There will be a degree at a particular waypoint on that path. While it isn’t the final destination, it will be a major accomplishment.
  • Learn at least one other language to B2 level. The CEFRL (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) breaks out language functionality to 6 levels, using A, B, C for Basic, Independent, Proficient and splitting each of those in half. B2 is the upper side of Independent and the rough benchmark for where you can expect to be able to easily interact with native speakers and have there not be any major difficulties on either side. I currently test at a B1 level for French (barely) and an A1 for Danish. I’d really like to upgrade both of those.
  • Get a 2nd Degree. The plan is for there to be a Bachelor of Education, although I’m not ruling out a Master’s Degree. There are branches in the path and while I think I know which one I’d like to follow, the objective right now is to work hard and keep all of the doors open.


Alternately phrased, activities I’ve always wanted to do. There are a lot of things I could have pulled from the big list, and some I did, but the ones here don’t clearly fit into another category, so got one of their own.

  1. Skydiving. Yeah, I know, I’m a pilot’s son and was brought up to believe that only an idiot jumps out of an airplane there’s nothing wrong with. But once for practice is fine, right?
  2. Swim with Manta Rays. I had a severe ear infection in my late 20s that burst an eardrum. I can’t get very far underwater without pain in that ear. But mantas come into shallow water, don’t they?
  3. Feed Sharks. So if I can’t get very far under water, I can’t dive, but how far to you have to get to put on the chain mail gloves and hand feed sharks? I don’t actually know the answer to that question, but I’d like to find out, and I’ve wanted to ever since I found out this was something you could do.


Things that are specifically about family, whether it’s individual members or family as a whole. I have very strong feelings about family and what it means. Probably, everyone does, but we don’t all feel identically.

  1. Take each child on a trip individually. Somewhere in the world, a trip with each of my children, somewhere they want to go, doing the things they want to do, so I can see some of what they think the coolest places would be through their eyes.
  2. Write a Family History. My interest in genealogy has waxed and waned over the years ever since I dipped a toe into research in the early 1990s and found the newspaper obituaries for my great grandparents on my mother’s side. By this point, I’ve got charts and facts and dates enough to fill multiple binders, but I don’t necessarily know a lot about any of them as people. It would be neat to gather that together into a book to share with other family members.
  3. Take Mom to Graceland. My mother has been an Elvis fan for much longer than I’ve been alive. She’s talked about wanting to go for years and has almost started planning a trip with friends more than once. I want to make sure she gets there.
  4. Get Dad to go to RCAF Museum. Not as big a trip as the one I’ve got planned for mom, but it might be as big a one as I can get dad to take. A few years ago, I mentioned I’d taken the kids. He asked what planes we saw. I listed a bunch and he’d flown about half of them. I’d really like him to tell me about that.
  5. Have a Family Reunion. On social media, some of my cousins have talked about the idea of a clan gathering for years. This has mostly been in passing, or idle thoughts expressed out loud, but maybe we should seriously think about it. I’m not sure how many cousins and families I can talk into the idea, but I think it’s worth the effort. Post-pandemic, of course.
  6. Collect Family Recipes. This could be a really interesting project, and maybe  a stepping stone towards the reunion, putting us all in more regular contact. Personally, I have two recipes for things from my paternal grandmother (saved by my mother) and I expect there’s a lot more out there on both sides of the family. Plus, there’s some cool food that would come out of it.


How’s that for a vague heading? Maybe you can call these general life goals.

  • Move to the Country. We’ve been talking about this for a while, the home we want to retire in. Green space around us, a place for me to plant a couple of groves of trees, some water access… there are a number of things that would make it ideal. This year has screwed up a lot of things, but in some ways, we’re closer than we have been for a while even if in some ways we’re a lot farther away.
  • Throw A Giant Party. There were supposed to be two of these this year. Our 25th anniversary in May. My 50th birthday a couple of days ago. Neither of those happened for pandemic reasons, but the pandemic won’t last forever. Sooner or later, a party will be possible and I have several saved up excuses.
  • Write a Comprehensive Will. I’m not saying I don’t have a will but there are too many things I’d just have to rely on the people I leave behind just knowing what I might have wanted. This is less than ideal. There are certain things I’d really like to happen. Of course, I’ll be dead so I won’t know any better, but still.
  • Three Time Capsules. One to be opened on a future birthday to entertain myself, one to be opened on the first anniversary after my death, and one to be opened some large number of years after my death.
  • Go to more than one Protest. I hesitate to put a specific number on this one, but I’ve never been to a protest. There have been things I’ve wanted to protest, especially this year, but it seems like I only find out about protests I care about and can get to on the news after they’ve already happened. There has to be an easy way to fix that, and I’m going to find it. Maybe I should just organize one of my own.
  • Go to an estate sale. I find estate sales creepy. Wandering through dead people’s stuff while other live people doing the same comment and pass judgement on that stuff. But it’s possible that might happen to my stuff someday, so I feel like I should get a little less uncomfortable with the idea.
  • Brew Beer. Needs to be done. My son and I have talked about it for several years. Actually, since before he was old enough to legally drink. Maybe before. Space is an issue, of course, but it can be figured out. And the first run will need to be stuff that people other than the two of us might drink. Especially since there’s a good chance it won’t be very good.


Some of the things I wanted for this category originally, I checked off a long time ago. Some I’ll never check off now since I’m basically not allowed to run if I want to continue using my left knee to walk with for the rest of my life. So while I managed a handful of marathons, and as many shorter races, when I was in my thirties, before the knee issues really caught up, I never managed a triathlon, and I never will at this point. Still, there are things left I want to achieve.

  • Three New Ranks, not necessarily in the same art. I’m talking about Martial Arts here. I’ve been training in karate for more than a decade now, and I’ve recently started on a kobudo journey. I fully intend to continue learning and training through my 50s and well beyond, and I don’t promise not to explore other traditions. Actually, I debated putting this under Education since there’s far more than just a physical component to any martial art, but it doesn’t quite go there, either. Honestly, Martial Arts should have its own category and specific list, and it does, but not here.
  • Cycle the length of the Cataraqui Trail. I’ve taken up cycling again since COVID and while my primary purpose right now is to bring down my 10k time, my secondary one is to push the distance, too. The Cataraqui trail is 104 km long, running from Smith’s Falls to Napanee, Ontario. It looks like it’s all cyclable, but there are some interesting spots. I’m not nearly ready for it yet. But I will be at some point, I hope.
  • Via Ferrata, the Iron Path. Essentially a protected climbing route. Rungs, iron ladders, bridges. Not exactly mountain climbing, but sort of. Not exactly rock climbing, but sort of. The skill threshold is much lower than both, but it’s something you can experience that’s kin to both and can be a significant physical undertaking. And there are a couple within a few hours’ drive of my home.
  • Walk 50 km. This doesn’t sound like a big deal until you think about walking 50 km in a row. At a comfortable and easy pace along relatively level ground, that’s probably ten hours. So I’ll want to do it faster, of course, and sightseeing while I do it.


And I’m using the word to essentially mean part of how I’m going to make my living over the next ten years. That said, if you look at any one of these, you’ll find crossover with some other area.

  • Teach Overseas. And by overseas, I mean somewhere that isn’t part of Canada or the US. Maybe several somewheres. This has been part of the plan for a long time, and it’s one of the main goals once I have the TESL certification, although it will need to wait until some of the educational goals have been hit, too.
  • Work an Election. I’ve been thinking for a long time that I need to be more engaged with the processes in our democracy. There’s more to civic engagement than just voting. Actually, there’s more to voting than just voting. I want to see things from the other side.
  • Start a business. Let’s face it, this will almost certainly be a small press of some kind, but I do have a few other ideas. Does that mean there will be more than one? I suppose that’s a possibility, but let’s learn to walk first.
  • Start a Charity. There’s a pretty good chance this will be something animal related, but I’ve got a few other ideas here, too. I look around and see things the community, the country, the planet lacks, but I don’t know how to start on fixing a lot of those, or at least contributing towards solutions. Research is needed.
  • Start a Writing Camp for Adults. And this could fall into either of the last two categories. There are art camps for adults, as I noted above, but I don’t see a lot of writing camps. I’m not looking to churn out classes of professional writers but to show people that they can write and they can write a lot more than they think they can. Covering expenses would be really nice, too.


This takes in going anywhere that isn’t essentially where I’m living at the moment. There are a few of the ‘Family’ goals above that could fit in here, too, but these are more places I want to get to at some point in my life. So why not try to hit some of them before I turn 60?

  • Machu Picchu. This was supposed to be our 25th Anniversary trip. The pandemic put a stop to that, but we will get there. While we’re there, I want to do more than just Machu Picchu itself. There are two other mountain stairways within walking distance, and aside from the those, Peru also holds the Nazca figures and the Rainbow Mountain, plus a whole culture.
  • Okinawa. Birthplace of karate and yes, that’s the main reason I want to go. Nothing to do with the Karate Kid movies at all. My primary style of karate and the style of kobudo I’m practicing both have their seat in Okinawa, although the head of the style of the latter is currently based in Wisconsin.
  • Visit every Province & Territory in Canada. I’ve been to or driven through most of the provinces in Canada, but those were nearly all as a child. I want to see them with adult eyes.
  • Visit every provincial park south of North Bay. This is something we’ve just thought about recently. There are a lot of provincial parks in Ontario. We’ve been to a handful or two over the years, a lot of them camping with the kids. I want to see more. My count on this is 63 available, and we’ve been to 8. Honestly, If I can get this to 30 on the list, I’ll count this one a success, and I can do that without getting more than three and a half hours from home.
  • Drive Across Canada. Probably not all at once, but combined with other things on this list, there are multiple possibilities for trips here.
  • Visit 10 National Parks. There are national parks, too. I don’t remember ever being to one. There are six in Ontario, two of them less than two hours from my house.
  • Both Mile Zeroes of the TCH Plus Mile 3339. Translated, both ends of the Transcanada highway claim to be the beginning. Mile 3339 counts from the eastern beginning and is where Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope ended. I remember being in the car as we drove past him in Sudbury, though I don’t really have a concrete memory of him.
  • Banff. This one might seem a bit like cheating when looking at the “Visit 10 National Parks” goal, but there are six of those just in Ontario (and just on land) to help with that goal and it’s been decades since I’ve seen real mountains. Whether it gets included among the ten or counted separately may depend a lot on when I get there.
  • Mount Fuji has been on my list since I was a kid, probably sometime during the first samurai movie I saw. Long past due for me to get there. It’s not exactly close to Okinawa, so I can’t say if this will be the same trip or achieved because Japan is part of another goal.
  • Athens has been on my list for longer. So much of what we think of as our culture can be traced back to Ancient Greece. Well, and other places, but I’ve always wanted to see the Parthenon.
  • Stonehenge is another ancient spot I’d like to visit. Older than the Pyramids, older than, well, an awful lot of ancient stone age sites. I don’t want to get there for some crowded solstice or equinox ceremony, though. I’d like to watch the sun rise and burn off the mists around me while I let my mind drift back through the millennia.
  • Copenhagen. When I was younger, I was enamoured with Copenhagen. My father spent the first decade or so of his life there and may be less so, but his memories are of the hard decade after WWII where I started looking at things in probably the late 1980s when it had become a beautiful, world class city (if it hadn’t been one before). If my Danish sucks, that’s something I can work on.
  • The Galapagos. This was supposed to be an anniversary trip, too, sometime very soon, a dream my wife and I have shared for a long time. I worry that the Islands are getting a little touristy, but that comes with some comforts, too. I’m not all that worried about the number of stars the hotel I’m staying at has so long as there are clean sheets. Well, and running water.
  • Photo Safari. In some ways, southern Africa is the holy grail for wildlife watchers. All of the classic zoo animals in their natural habitat. Yes, there will be photos, but I also just want to be there to experience the air as I watch a tower of giraffes, a herd of elephants, a pride of lions amble across the path.

So there’s the list. It’s big. It’s a lot. But it’s for a whole decade, so it might just be doable. I’ll be transforming this to a static page as well, a spot to keep track and keep updated, as if I don’t have my own private tracking.

Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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