One Less on the Bucket List

Man, I’m pooped. But it’s the really good kind of pooped. Like the kind where you get to cross through one of your bucket list items.

I saw U2 at Bridgestone Arena tonight. It was everything I always dreamed a U2 concert would be (and more). They played a lot of favorites. They threw in some unexpected delights like Gloria (not the Van Morrison version) and Acrobat (from Achtung Baby, I think).

After nearly 40 years in the business, they still put on an amazing show. The stage, the lighting, the screens were as good as I’ve ever seen. The band had an incredible amount of energy and kept it up for over 2 hours.

I didn’t agree 100% with all of Bono’s politics, but I did what all mature adults do and let it slide. I did like it when he talked about how the left and the right have to come together to form a solution to the current plight of this country. He said that there is no us and them. There’s only us.

I agree. Whenever I hear people tearing down the current President (as well as people who vilified the last one), I don’t see any good coming from that. As one astute person observed, as emotionally satisfying as it may be (and how morally superior it may make you feel), it can actually be more counter productive than productive. You only end up preaching to the choir, the people who already agreed with your side in the first place.

What we need is more dialogue and far less diatribes. But that’s for another post and another day.

I only wish U2 could have closed out the set with the song 40 from the album War, but other than that, I’m completely and thoroughly satisfied. It was a great night and a good time was had by all.

 

A New Bucket List Item

I spent the evening at one of my favorite places– the Opryland Hotel.

What makes this place so special is how they will spend 6 months putting together all their Christmas lights and decorations. The results are more than worth it.

As usual, I put in over 20,000 steps walking around from one conservatory to the next. It’s impressive. It’s ridiculously over the top in the best way possible. It’s overwhelming at times.

I think I have a new bucket list item. I want to stay in one of the rooms overlooking the Delta Atrium during the Christmas season (or at least when the lights are all up). I think I’d prefer to stay on either the very top floor or the one just below it. Either would work just fine for me. I think a weekend stay would suit me just fine.

I’d also like to dine at the Old Hickory Steakhouse. Even though I’ve never dined there, I always imagine it’d cost me at least one of my vital organs. Or just an arm and a leg.

I’m refraining from looking up how much all of this would actually cost. I don’t want to ruin my perfect little fantasy.

At the very least, I get to spend a couple of hours every year taking in all the holiday glory that is the Opryland Hotel in December.

Merry Christmas to me, indeed!

Check One off the Bucket List

I can (almost) officially check one off the bucket list.

My bucket list is a bit vague and indefinite, but one very clear and definite goal of mine has been to see U2 live in concert. I missed out in 2014 when they played at Vanderbilt Stadium here in Nashville.

I’d decided then that I’d probably missed my chance. I mean, these guys have been around for nearly 40 years. How much longer will they go through the grind of a world tour?

Well, this time came around and I grabbed my chance. Actually, I grabbed, missed, almost gave up again, checked back, grabbed for good, and succeeded.

The first time I tried to purchased a ticket, I couldn’t find any that were under $200, counting fees and taxes. That was where the part about almost giving up again came in.

Tonight, I decided to give it one more shot.

I went to ticketmaster.com and looked for tickets. Lo and behold, I found one that was under $100. I supposed for a bucket list item, that’s reasonably cheap. Also, it’s in the extreme nosebleed section of Bridgestone Arena. But at least it’s inside. I’m going.

There would be a happy dance right now if I weren’t so frickin’ tired. But I’m celebrating on the inside.

I’ve been a fan of U2 since The Joshua Tree in 1987. I own every one of their albums (including the new one, Songs of Experience, which arrived in the mail today) and a few of their concert DVDs. I admire Bono’s outspokenness about the causes he believes in– and most notably, about his faith in Jesus.

I can think of very few other bands that have not only survived but remained relevant for as long as they have. I can’t think of a single other band that has lasted as long with the same lineup.

My next bucket list (in case you’re wondering) is to dine at an In-N-Out Burger restaurant, which will probably also mean me traveling out west.

 

Empty Bucket Lists

“The best lives don’t have Bucket Lists as much as they have Empty Bucket lists.

Because the thing is when I kick the bucket, I don’t want there to be anything left in my bucket. When I kick the bucket, I want the bucket right empty.

I don’t want my life to be how I took experiences — but that I gave exceedingly.

That I gave every last drop, that I poured it all out, that I held nothing back. Because the way to really live is not to try to fill your life up — but to spill your life out” (Ann Voskamp).

Very rarely anymore do I read words that completely blow up my world as these did.

I was all about my bucket list. I may not have written it all down, but I had it all up in my noggin and just waiting for the right opportunities.

I keep thinking about the acronym for GIFT– Give it Forward Today. That’s the best way to a fulfilled life. Pour yourself out for the sake of others and ultimately for the sake of Christ.

I’m all about experiencing life and trying new things. I’m all for not sitting on your couch in front of Netflix, waiting to die but confronting your fears and living each day to the fullest. But it’s not about hoarding life as much as it is giving it away every single day.

I do think though that life isn’t about filling up your bucket but about emptying it out so that at the end, there’s nothing left. I hope that at the end when I take my last breath, I will have been all used up for God with nothing left to spare.

PS I still recommend the book The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp if you haven’t already read it. I put the link to buy it off amazon.com on my last blog post.

 

 

How You Know You’re Officially Old

thejoshuatree

I can still remember where I was when I first heard U2’s The Joshua Tree.

It was my first foray into the world of U2 and Bono. I recall being captivated by the sounds coming out of the headphones connected to my Sony Walkman (cassette player, no less). I bought the album on cassette, CD, and finally the deluxe 2-CD edition that came out about 10 years ago with B-sides and unreleased tracks thrown in for good measure).

I still remember what it felt like the first time I experienced it. I had never heard anything like it before. It blew my 15-year old mind.

This year, that album turns 30 years old.

I’m officially old.

Most albums from the 80’s sound very much like they came from the 80’s. You can listen to how the drums were produced and almost pinpoint the year the song came out.

The Joshua Tree doesn’t sound like an 80’s album. It sounds like a classic album whose sound is universal and timeless. It sounds as fresh and new today as it did way back in 1987.

I just discovered that U2 will be embarking on a 30th anniversary tour of The Joshua Tree, where they’ll play the entire album from start to finish (with other songs thrown in, I assume).

If they come anywhere Nashville, I might just have to sell a kidney or mortgage my cat to get a ticket. After all, it’s on my bucket list.

This album remains one of my favorite faith-based albums of all time. Actually, it’s one of my favorite albums of all time, period. I can’t overemphasize how much of an impact it had on my musical formation and appreciation. I might have had crappy musical taste back in the day, but I got at least one album right.

Guess what I’ll be listening to tonight as I fall asleep?

 

 

23,000 Steps and Counting

I got my 10,000 steps in (and then some).

Actually, I tallied in the neighborhood of 23,000 steps, which equates to 10.3 miles. That’s a lot of walking.

I did what is coming to be known as my Annual Christmastime Visit to Opryland Hotel. It’s easy to log in a lot of steps because there’s so much to see and so much ground to cover. Literally.

If you haven’t been, I can’t recommend this place highly enough. It’s like a massive version of the Enchanted Forest with an insane amount of Christmas lights strung up and enough decorations to satisfy the festive hearts of even the most fanatical devotees to all things Christmasy.

It helps if you wear comfortable shoes that can handle walking long distances. It also helps if you’re in at least moderately good shape.

You may or may not want to take a massive quantity of photos while you’re there to capture the moments. That all depends on your skills as a photographer (and possibly how good your camera is).

If I’m not mistaken, the good folks at Opryland Hotel start decorating in July. Once you see the final result, you’ll understand why. It’s a spectacle with few equals.

Give yourself plenty of time to take in all the sights and sounds (and maybe bring some cash for a souvenir or two).

I think I should add staying at the Opryland Hotel to my bucket list, preferably in one of the rooms that overlook one of the conservatories. I’m not sure of the exact price, but I imagine it would involve 1) selling an organ, 2) the sale of any possible future offspring, 3) sacrificing a small woodland animal, and/or 4) a huge wad of cash.

So for right now, I’ll settle for visiting and putting in all those steps. Maybe one day I’ll see some of you there.

 

 

My Prayer at 11:08 PM on a Friday Night

“I thank God for most this
amazing
day; for the leaping greenly
spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;
and for everything
which is natural, which is
infinite, which is yes” (e. e. cummings)

On this Friday, I give thanks for the following:

  1. Fridays, which have never gotten old, even when I was unemployed. I can’t remember when Friday didn’t make me extremely happy.
  2. Another overcast Autumn day to remind me of why I love fall.
  3. An oversized mug of hot chocolate from The Well to remind me of why I love hot chocolate. Or anything at all from The Well. Or just hanging out at The Well in general.
  4. Geriatric cats that still curl up in my lap and fall asleep there (well, just the one geriatric cat named Lucy who would probably kill me in my sleep if she ever found out that I referred to her as geriatric).
  5. Doctor Who (particularly the episodes with David Tennant and Billie Piper). I’m late to the party, but I’m now officially a fan. And I still at some point would like to watch all the existing episodes, starting at the very beginning. Put that on my bucket list.
  6. Netflix on my iPad, which is way cooler than the portable TV I used to tote around back in the day when I thought I was the cat’s pajamas (again, don’t tell my cat Lucy I said that).
  7. A comfortable bed at the end of a long day.
  8. Not having to set the alarm for 5 am for tomorrow morning.
  9. God’s grace at the end of the day and God’s new mercies for the beginning of the next new day.

So what did we learn today? Gratitude still pays dividends. That and it’s a really good thing my cat Lucy doesn’t read my blog posts.

 

What’s It Worth?

“Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, ‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?'” (Mark 8:34-37).

God is not your co-pilot. If He is, it’s time to switch seats.

But enough of cliches. This is the gospel. It’s not about prosperity and happiness. It’s about following Jesus, no matter what, even if it hurts.

Sometimes where Jesus leads is pleasant, but not always.

Sometimes, it feels good to follow Jesus, but sometimes it feels like swimming against the current.

Sometimes, you’ll really feel like saying yes to whatever Jesus asks of you, but sometimes you will have to say yes when your feelings are saying no.

It’s about letting Jesus lead, wherever He takes you and through whatever He brings you.

As much as I love my comfort and convenience, that’s not the road that Jesus took.

His road was marked with suffering and pain.

His road was definitely the road less traveled, the narrow road that few find that leads to life eternal.

His road was the road that led to you and me in our worst moments, where He invited us to follow and find out what a different and better life could look like.

What good would it do me to get everything I’ve ever wanted and dreamed about, everything on my Amazon wish list, everything on my bucket list, and lose my soul in the process?

If I have everything else and no Jesus, I have nothing. If I have nothing else but Jesus, I have everything.

The end.

 

My bucket list

First of all, I’d like to know who came up with the expression “kick the bucket” and who first associated it with dying. I’m not losing any sleep over it, but it would be nice to know just in case I’m ever on Jeopardy or a caller on a morning radio show with a chance to win a fabulous prize. I’m just sayin’.

But for real, I do have a bucket list of sorts. It’s not written down, but I have one item on my bucket list. Only one. My one bucket list wish is to hear Jesus say to me at the end of my road, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That’s all. To please Jesus is not only on my bucket list, it is my bucket list. That being said, I pretty much suck at it. Most of the time, I try to please just about anyone and everyone else before I even attempt to please Jesus.

Still, that’s what I want. More than anything else. Sure, I’d like to see Scotland or meet Bono. And for the record, I would try skydiving, but I have a burning desire to NOT DIE! Plus, I’m not really keen on heights, which is pretty much a prerequisite for jumping out of a plane at 1 gazillion feet in the air.

I want to make Jesus proud of  me. I want to be His hands and feet and serve Him every chance I get, whether He be the person at the cash register at Publix or the homeless man on the corner looking for spare change. I want my whole life to be one big THANK YOU note to Him.

I think I’ll get there. In fact, I know I will, because Jesus told me that He would never leave me or forsake me. He said He would finish the good work He started in me. When He sees a heart that yearns to please Him, He honors that.

So I probably have the shortest bucket list on the planet. Just hopefully not the shortest bucket.