September 21, 2008

There was a man named Dave Freeman who co-wrote the ultimate list. "100 Things To Do Before You Die." It was filled with adventures. Bungee jumping, running with the bulls in Pamplona, surfing nude at night in Australia and so on.

Then last month at 47, Dave tripped in his hallway hit his head and died. He'd got through 50 of the 100 things he listed.

When people have an idea of things they'd like to do before they die, do they ever consider they might die tomorrow?

I consider this all the time. Not that it motivates me.

As far as I'm concerned, if you're going to follow a list, it might as well be things you have a personal stake in. I tried to come up with a list of things I cared about doing before I die. But I didn't get very far.

I'd like to have one week where something doesn't go horribly wrong. But that's more of a wish, than an activity. I persevered however and came up with a list tailored to my personality.

The problem is, being a pessimist means any list I come up with will be met with the question: what's the point?

Nevertheless, there are things every pessimist should try at least once. Even if it's only to confirm you were right to think it wouldn't make a difference.

I tried to think of 50 Things A Pessimist Should Try Before They Die but could only come up with 25. I'd welcome more suggestions from fellow pessimists but I don't expect anyone to bother.

1. Get out of bed with an excitement to start the day.

2. Substitute the answer "Great!" for "I've been better" when asked: How are you?

3. Go for a walk on the beach without worrying about skin cancer.

4. Fly without demanding a seat next to the emergency exit.

5. Wait for your luggage without panicking it's on a flight to Guam.

6. Ride in an elevator without expecting the grinding sound that tells you it's stuck between floors.

7. Touch the pole on the tube without pulling your sleeve down to cover your hand.

8. Sleep in a hotel bed without inspecting the mattress for bed bugs.

9. Buy a lottery ticket

10. Don't assume that the waiter gave you regular instead of decaf

11. Use the nights you have insomnia to knit a scarf rather than ponder every mistake you've ever made

12. Get through at least one week of "4 weeks to a better body"

13. Attend a wedding without thinking they'll be divorced in five years.

14. Eat sushi from a salad bar

15. Give someone a week to respond to an email without assuming they don't care about you.

16. If you see hair in the sink, don't predict you will be bald and alone for the rest of your life

17. Go to a party without expecting to hate it.

18. Tell a friend "You'll get over him" even if you don't think she will.

19. Show up at work without worrying you're about to lose your job.

20. Go out in the pouring rain believing a cab will turn up in seconds

21. If he tells you he's busy and can't talk don't assume he's having an affair.

22. Have someone explain why the stock market always corrects itself.

23. When someone tells you "This will pass" don't ask: "But what if it doesn't?"

24. Look at an old photograph of yourself without thinking your best days are behind you

25. Just once, experience what it feels like to say: life is good.