I recently turned 53 and crossed off my first official Bucket List item by going to Paris. I had lived in Switzerland as an exchange student after high school and had traveled around Italy and southern France during that year. But I hadn’t been back to Europe since 1982 and I’d never been to Paris. I’ve been saying for years that I would go “some day,” but one thing about 53 is you’ve already seen enough people die and others be stricken with life changing illness that a part of you knows that “some day” won’t happen unless you make it happen.
Money has been tight since forever, and even when I started having a little extra, Paris seemed like an extravagance. And I don’t do extravagance. But then I found out my host father from Switzerland was dying and I knew it was time to go. Unfortunately, he passed away before I got there, which was another reminder that you shouldn’t keep putting things off.
I went on the trip alone, other than seeing my host sister during a quick visit to Zurich. I learned that 19 1/2 years in Los Angeles left me completely unprepared for a March winter. And I also figured out that it’s always good to do things which scare you — because as the trip I’d planned for nine months drew nearer I was absolutely terrified. But, similar to the cross-country trip from DC to LA I’d undertaken twenty years earlier after my divorce, this journey helped me transition into a new phase in life. Not one of slowing down and thinking of retirement, but making priorities and figuring out what to tackle next.
Please do yourself a favor and plan to do one thing you’ve always wanted to this year. It really is good for the soul.