My 8.6 Minute Bucket List

The Bucket List.
You know how they say your life flashes before your eyes when you die?

8.6 minutes. That's approximately the amount of time you have after your heart stops beating before brain function ceases. When we die, our eyes close, our body is paralyzed, and if we're lucky enough to die of old age; we will do so with loved ones standing over us, mourning, as we're lost for all time. But, we're not actually gone yet; not for 8.6 minutes. The brain continues to function for 8.6 minutes after the body dies. That's practically a lifetime to live through past emotions; a last poetic gift of the experiences and memories you've collected in this life. It will either be 8.6 minutes of tragic regret, or something so transcendental, maybe one last synapse will fire a final smile.

When I visited my friend Christie in Belgium, I noticed her bucket list taped to the desk. She, like myself is what you call “life addicts.” Us “lifers” spent the afternoon of my departure trying to find her a cheap seat so she could join me in Cairo. It was on both our lists. After checking that one off, I've now replaced it with meeting the Dalai Lama. No, that's actually number two. Number one has always been to do good and changing the world.

For a longtime, I wanted to write a book. I'm now finishing my second. It's about my tragic fascination with another one of my bucket list items, living abroad. There I said it, and as corny as that sounds, I want the freedom to try it and to see myself in another culture, to understand others by living through their lives. I ache to do more, to feel more, to be more than who I am right now. To punch a hole in the wall of expectation and live a life with no regrets.

Somewhere on the list is to love more. Love my children, love my love, and love myself.

Then there's sailing across the Atlantic, and driving to the tip of South America someday. I also want to go dig wells for the thirsty in Africa, visit the Kremlin, and spend one night outside sleeping in Champ Du Mars, under the stars, and the Eiffel Tower. I'm also dead set on writing a book on homeless immigrants by living in the Brussels metro for three months, if I can only interest a publisher.

In the end, Christie's, mine, or anyone's bucket lists for that matter, are really about the same thing: benchmarks for existence. Collecting life's moments inside ourselves for our final performance. If life, like art, isn't about all the wonderful joys, all the laughs, all the tears that we feel and experience, then what's the point?  Because in the end, we all get the same 8.6 minutes to rewind the story of our life, and believe me, mine is going to be a blockbuster.

You know how they say your life flashes before your eyes when you die?
What if this, right now- what we’re living is that flash?

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