I won’t stand for life coaching (I’ll coach myself, thanks). Yoga and Pilates are fine, I suppose, but once you start talking Bikram Yoga (yoga in a hot room, essentially), my eyes glaze over.
My parents lost a bunch of weight on the Atkins Diet, and I sometimes opt for food and drink labeled “low carb,” but I still shudder each time I see the health benefits of essentially unhealthy food touted with a low carb label (“Look, it’s a “low carb” candy bar! Better skip that bowl of broccoli!”).
Hypnotherapy? Please. I don’t have the column space to express my distaste. Ugh.
Still, while striving to avoid the hip, topical trappings of the perpetual American self-help cycle, I am at times taken with ideas of the moment. One of them is the “life list.” Incidentally, life lists, like yoga, have a history longer than popular memory. The popular push is on, though.
Amazon.com’s selection of books on how to gather the 101 (or 10, or 99) things to want to do before you die (or turn 30, or 40) is expansive and filled mainly with titles under five years old. There are so many that reading them all surely would kill whatever time you might spare to accomplish anything.
I’m not really interested in reading them. I just like the idea of a keeping a list of hoped-for lifetime accomplishments.
Many of us already keep a mental tally, though I suspect the goals often become dreams as life wears on. The idea of a life list is to provide a set of lofty goals whose heights are attainable with a little daily or weekly concern paid to their attainment. “Climb Mount Everest” is popular. “Run a marathon” is another big one. Of the lists I’ve seen, a common one listed for young men is to “sleep with two women at once.” For older men it’s to “see my kids graduate college.” You get the picture.
Until a few years ago, I never wrote down anything on my list. I had one. I still do. The few things written down don’t amount to a hard-and fast 101, though, and places like Alaska are why.
You see, living in Alaska was never on my list. Seeing a northern lights directly overhead? Sure. Seeing a polar bear? Yup. Eating whale? Yes, actually. An invite to chow-down with folks in Barrow has got to be better than my original hope, which involved a restaurant in Tokyo.
Living here has made certain goals possible, yes, but it’s also expanded my list to include so many Alaska-centric things I need a separate list to accommodate them. “Hike Resurrection Trail,” “land a 60-pound king,” “run Mount Marathon.” This stuff was nowhere near my list last April, as I contemplated the list additions made possible by the sands surrounding Albuquerque.
I’m not big winter sports guy, but as soon as the daylight started extending its hourly reach, my mouth began to salivate for the chance to enjoy the Alaska outdoors too frozen to find appealing for the past five months. There was much to do, and my list had grown long over the winter months.
Digging razor clams was near the top of my Alaska list. Its addition was instant, jumping on the list as soon as I read about the practice in one of the recreation guides laying around our office.
“You mean you can literally pull clams from the ground?” I asked a co-worker incredulously.
“Oh, yeah,” he said, and proceeded to fill me in on the many details, making sure to note the importance of buying a fishing permit first, bundling up against unpredictable weather, etc.
Pull clams from the sand? My Midwestern upbringing offered no such options.
Well, last weekend brought a low tide, and I brought home the booty. It wasn’t pretty. Clam Gulch’s beach is, I guess, but my no-shovel, tough guy technique taught me the reason why the things are called razors.
Truth be told, the massive hole in my left index finger is making this column painful to write. Thankfully, a kind fellow from Soldotna gave me enough pointers to stave off additional wounds.
I didn’t get many, really, but I had fun, I got a few clams to eat for dinner last Sunday, and I’ve still got a few in my freezer. I was satisfied with the experience, but only marginally.
You see, I can now say “I dug razor clams on an Alaska beach.” Check. One more item off the list. That’s good. It gives me a chance to pursue the newest addition to it: “Dig my limit of razor clams.”
At this rate, I could be in Alaska a long, long time.
John Hult is a reporter for the Clarion.
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