Today marks my 30th birthday, and so I enter into my fourth decade of life. I have to say, my first 30 years have been pretty amazing. When I reflect back on the things I have accomplished and the places I have been, I am truly grateful for all of the opportunities that have been made available to me. It hasn’t been a cake walk, but I have been a very fortunate individual. I have been blessed with an amazing family, good friends, good food, WINE, a fantastic education, and a magnificent world to explore.
Looking back on my life, I realize that there are still a lot of things that I want to accomplish. While I’ve never been one to pay much attention to my age – each individual day is much like the one before it – in the past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about things that I would like to do in the next 10 years of life. Here are some of the goals that I’ve set for my 30s.
Spend Holy Week in Rome – Easter is a great season of celebration in the Catholic Church. I’ve known several people who have spent Holy Week at the Vatican in the past, and every report that I’ve heard has been glowing. To celebrate this most joyous of seasons with millions of the faithful would be an amazing experience.
Hike the Appalachian Trail – This is the longest marked hiking trail in the United States, totaling nearly 2,184 miles. The trail runs between Georgia and Maine, with 90% of hikers starting in the South during the spring and heading north. It take experienced hikers 5-6 months to complete the trail, and, according to National Geographic, the vast majority of hikers give up in the first 75 miles – before they’ve even left Georgia. I have no delusions about this goal – it will be long and hard, and it will probably be at least a couple of years before I’m ready to try this.
Pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago – This is long pilgrimage across Northern Spain. It is approximately 500 miles of total distance, but unlike the Appalachian Trail, it not hiking terrain. Along the way there are a series of refugios where pilgrims stay. Many of the refugios are actually staffed by pilgrims who decide to spend a week or more welcoming other pilgrims before they continue on their own pilgrimages. I think it would be awesome to volunteer to staff one of the refugios during the pilgrimage.
Learn a new language – I’ve always had a fascination with languages. I already speak German, but I would love to learn at least one more language in the next ten years. Languages I’d like to learn include Italian, Korean, Russian, French, and Spanish. While Spanish is probably the most practical in that list, I think I’d enjoy one of the others much more.
Run a marathon – I’m in no particular hurry to complete this, but especially after losing over 50 pounds and setting a goal for 2012 to run 1,000 cumulative miles, I can see this as a pretty realistic even at some point in the next 12-24 months.
Visit 17 new States – I’ve already visited 33 of these United States, but that leaves 17 which I still need to see. Two of these should be pretty easy – Oregon and Washington – given their proximity to California. And several others, including West Virginia and Maine, would be taken care of hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Get a cheap last-minute plane ticket to a random place and just go – I’m a huge fan of travel (surprise, surprise). Unlike my mom, I have no problem with random, unplanned travel experiences. I think it would be really fun to just show up at the airport, buy the cheapest last-minute flight available, and go.
Travel to South America – I have traveled to 5 of the 7 continents already, but South America is currently missing. I had really hoped to go while my friend Ryan was living there, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Then I hoped to go while Mike and Suzanne were there, but that also never happened. Maybe I’ll finally make it in 2013 for World Youth Day in Brazil, but time will tell.
Attend a ball in Vienna – My friend Hans has been trying to get me to come out to Vienna for a ball for the past several years. It sounds like such a romantic experience, doesn’t it? Pack up the tuxedo, jet-set off to Austria, and dance with beautiful women in a palace.
See the pyramids – I’ve had both family and friends that have visited the pyramids, and I think it would be such an amazing experience. These marvels of engineering would certainly be something to behold.
Go wine tasting in France, Spain, and Italy – Lets be real, folks. I love travel. I love wine. Combine the two with some of the most prolific wine producing regions of the “Old World,” and it’s like being in heaven. Admittedly, I haven’t been a huge fan of French wines in the past, but I hear rumor that they have some truly amazing wines that are available only there – and at very affordable prices.
Return to Alaska for the first time since 5th Grade – I had actually hoped that this might get checked off the list this summer. My friend Mike Liliedahl had suggested that we take a trip to Juneau and then hike the Chilkoot Trail into Canada in July. A change in venue for his brother’s wedding, though, might mean that this trip to Alaska has to wait for another time.
Ride Amtrak – When it comes to domestic travel, I usually fly, though I have made a few trips by car. One thing I’ve done in both Asia and Europe that I’ve never done in the United States, though, is travel by rail. The American rail system is nowhere near as developed as some of the systems abroad, but I think it would be a worthwhile experience, nonetheless.
Write a book, even if nobody reads it – I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I’ve found that I’m not a very creative writer. I think my real goal should be to write something in the non-fiction genre rather than a novel.
Learn knife skills – In the past four years, in particular, I’ve really improved my prowess in the kitchen. One area, though, where I am still pretty weak is with my knife skills. I think knife skills would be very useful for fish, in particular, something which I’ve recently started experimenting with more.
Play laser tag – Apparently there is a laser tag arena just 45 minutes south of San Francisco. Need I say more?
Get on the national speaking circuit – One of the things I have enjoyed most over the past several years has been giving presentations to youth, young adults, and adults on topics related to the faith. People always seem to enjoy me presentations, and I’d really love to take my show on the road.
Read the entire Bible - I’ve tried this a few times before. I’ve tried reading it cover to cover, I’ve tried reading it thematically, I’ve tried reading it according to recommended orders. Despite these attempts, I’ve never managed to actually finish reading the whole Bible. Given that this is the inspired Word of God, I know that much fruit would be born out of meditating on it more.
Be more thankful – This, like some of the items that follow, is more about a change in my way of thinking than a physical accomplishment. I tend to find that people who are more thankful are also happier. I’d like to find that same happiness, so being grateful seems like a good place to start.
Find my vocation – While I certainly have a strong desire to be married, I’ve always said that I won’t close any door until the Lord has closed it for me.
Volunteer more – For it is in giving that we receive.
Pray more – As St. Francis de Sales said, “Half an hour’s meditation is essential except when you are very busy. Then a full hour is needed.” I have found that in the past years my life has become busier and busier, so it would seem that my time in prayer need to be increased, as well.
So there you have it – the list of things I’d like to accomplish in the coming decade. Want to join me for any of them? And, of course, if you see me, feel free to ask me about my progress.