Coming Face-To-Face With Mortality
Cancer sucks. Chemo isn’t much better. And between the two, one quickly realizes that, even with all the medical assistance available, living another 90 years probably isn’t happening. As a result, I’ve started thinking hard about what I’d like to do before I die. You know, those pie-in-the-sky items that were never urgent until I realized I might not get to do any of them if I don’t say anything. The result is this bucket list.
I posted the first five on Facebook a few days ago and will be posting the others there later today. However, the formatting on FB doesn’t really give me a chance to provide detail for individual items. I also am keenly aware that numbering the entries establishes an implied priority that isn’t necessarily true. Of the twenty items below, only the first two are extremely important. The first is because many of the others can’t happen until that one is achieved. The second is not really in my control at all. I don’t know that any of my kids will have children and it’s not my place to push them to do so.
All the others are arbitrary regarding an order. 19 can come before 3. 14 can happen most any time. What’s more important is that they be approached realistically, not haphazardly. If I’m going to do something, it needs to create a positive experience, not a disaster.
Hence, the reason for this post. I want to do more than present a list. I want to look at the cost, the obstacles, and any prerequisites for achieving them. Be aware that any pricing provided is an estimate and is subject to change. Economic and political factors may also contribute to the degree to which some bucket list items are possible at any given time.
Without any further rhetoric, here’s the full list.
All New Photography Equipment
This is at the very top of the list because a fair number of the other items require this one to be completed. I can’t take pictures anywhere of anyone if I don’t have a camera and related equipment, and currently, I have nothing except my phone.
This isn’t going to be cheap and I’ll need a lot of help. I’ve started a wish list on Amazon, but it’s still incomplete and, honestly, I’d rather purchase from Roberts since they’re local. The current price for everything I have on the list is roughly $9060.55 plus tax. However, the list only includes one lens and we all know that’s not going to be enough. There’s also going to be the issue of padded containers to carry everything safely. This isn’t going to be cheap, but it’s necessary.
Of all the items on this list, this is the only one over which I have absolutely no control. I have five kids, two of which are still young teens. Of the three that are already adults, only one has expressed any desire for offspring.
As much as I adore babies and would love to have a dozen grandkids, it’s not my choice. I cannot and would not attempt to force any of my kids to procreate. Bringing another child into the world is a huge decision and it’s not my call to make.
However, you can be quite sure that I will throw one helluva party if/when it ever happens.
Compose and Conduct
This one has two separate pieces and could get quite pricey the longer it’s delayed.
The first part is composition. In theory, this part should be cheap, only the cost of staff paper, which I can get on Amazon for only $10. However, my brain doesn’t work as well as it did 40 years ago. Composing needs a lot of help. So, toss in all the digital equipment necessary to make the required demo, and we’re looking at a price tag of around $10K.
Then comes the orchestra part. Ideally, if the composition is strong and the demo is good, we could convince an orchestra to include it as part of their regularly scheduled performances. However, if I’m the only one who likes it (which happens), then I’d have to rent the entire ensemble. The cost for that, based on today’s union prices, is around $60,000 for a single performance.
I’m thankful to be quite familiar with my indigenous heritage. What we didn’t know until a few years ago, however, is that Grandpa Slover’s family can be traced all the way back to at least 15th-century Calais, France, where they were teachers and, quite criminally, protestants in a country run by Catholics.
I’d love to visit Calais with enough time to deeply explore this minority portion of our family roots. Pricing this, though, is perilous. Round trip from IND can be anywhere from $1,000 to $31,000 based on current pricing. Hotels are reasonably around $100 a night and food and ancillary items for a month are going to run around $4,000.
No one who knows me at all should be surprised that horses are somewhere on this list. Were I younger, I’d want to own a dozen rescue horses. But at my age, that’s just foolish.
Instead, what I’d like to do is spend a foaling season (February to March in most cases) on a large horse rescue, taking pictures of all the newborns. Rescue horses are special, typically having endured very rough lives before being snatched from a slaughter pen. When a rescue mare breeds, the foals are especially meaningful. I want to be there to capture all the details and love on the horses. Bonus points if they’re draft breeds.
Taking The Train
I’ve been in love with trains almost from the moment I was born. Grandpa Slover worked for the now-defunct Rock Island Railway and I remember taking the train to go visit him.
Given the current climate of air travel, I much prefer taking the train rather than flying. The idea of going from New York to LA on the train, taking pictures all along the way, is an exciting thought.
How much would it cost? There’s some flexibility here, but generally speaking, around $3k per person, plus food. For practical and safety reasons, I’d need to take someone with me, so double that price.
This is one that Kat and I have talked about for a long time. We both love to travel and leasing an RV and touring the country, me taking pictures, her doing hair and makeup, is a desirable adventure for both of us.
Taking a full year, though? That could be challenging. We certainly can’t do it until the kids are done with school and capable of taking care of themselves. Even then, we don’t know what Kat’s salon situation might be.
RV rentals don’t work the same as car leasing. To be on the road for a full year, we’d likely have to rent at least four different vehicles. The cost would run around $1,500 a month plus expenses.
Where’s the Beach?
There are times when it’s nice to travel without the pressure of having to take pictures for a client. An all-inclusive Caribbean resort has been on my list for a long time but has yet to happen.
Pricing fluctuates a lot but going this time of year, March-April offers some pretty good pricing with many under $500/person for a two-week stay.
There are some caveats. Political forces weigh heavily on any travel to the Caribbean. At the moment, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Haiti all come with significant risks. Aruba, Turks & Cacaos, and other southern islands are more hospitable.
Paris Fashion Week
I could never do a fashion week anywhere as a tourist. My shutter finger would get itchy. If I’m going to go, it’s with a camera in hand, and if I have a camera, I want to be backstage, not in the pit, armpit-to-armpit with every other photographer.
Of all the shows, my strong preference would be to shoot Dior. Maria Grazia Chiuri has done wonderful things with the line since taking over in 2016. Getting in, though, is more about having the right connections, and I don’t have them anymore. Neither are fashion designers known for charitable attitudes towards photographers. This one could be quite a stretch.
Everyone wants to be a movie star, but that’s a dream for the young. At this point in life, my only realistic shot is in a low-paying walk-on role.
I’ll take it, especially if it’s one that is critical to moving the plot along. I don’t need a lot of lines, because my memory isn’t reliable. Just toss me in there for a minute, and then make me disappear. Bonus points if I can save the heroine in the process.
I’m not looking for anything that warrants an IMDb listing, just something that creates fun stories to tell after the fact.
I’ve had the pleasure of eating in some very nice restaurants over the course of the past 60 years. However, even if I was dining on someone else’s tab, I’ve always worried about how much my meal cost and whether I was imposing on my host.
For example, St. Elmo’s Steakhouse, right here in Indy, is one of the top-rated restaurants in the country. I’ve never been. Why? A steak can cost as much as $135, ala carte. The full meal, with wine, is going to run around $300 per person. My mind has difficulty accepting that I could ever be worth that level of expense.
I’d love for that to change.
I know either Kat or me, if not both, have friends who can help make this one happen. This is not your average drag show, though. Think “America’s Got Talent,” but in drag, and all the acts are done karaoke style. If you don’t think that would be a wildly fun evening, you’ve lived too sheltered a life.
I want to host the show, but not produce it. I’m not that talented. And we need top-notch judges, not some random person pulled off the street or the producer’s second cousin who took a music class once in college. Make it worthwhile for everyone and let’s have fun!
As a photographer, I hate weddings. They’re a pain in the backside with too little reward. As an officiant, though, they can be a lot of fun. I watched Poppa perform weddings everywhere from our living room to the school gymnasium. Only once did anything go terribly wrong (the bride fainted… twice).
I’m ordained (Church of the Latter-Day Dude), which makes it perfectly legal in like 46 of the 50 states. And given how much they’re under political attack, I’d love to perform dozens upon dozens of weddings for people in the LGBTQ+ community. They have just as much a right to eternal misery as the rest of us.
I’m cheap as long as there’s free food involved. Let’s make this happen!
Farrier For Hire
First off, the name is misspelled in the image. It’s fArrier, not fErrier.
Second, this one may be a genuine pipe dream. To become a licensed farrier, one has to complete a four-year apprenticeship. It’s like going to college all over again, and it cost about as much.
Would it be worth the time and expense? Hell yeah! Do I have the time to justify the expense? Probably not. I could reasonably take a horseshoeing class and become certified in just that aspect, but a lot of draft horses, which I love, have more advanced hoof problems, especially if their rescues. This is a tough one.
We need to do this again, in some place that actually matters. Solo exhibitions are tough to come by, and getting one in a gallery that actually attracts collectors is even more difficult. Once again, it’s not so much cost as it is connections that make something like this happen.
But I don’t just want a simple photography exhibit. I’ve been bored by too many of those. Let’s get real with some artistic eroticism that pushes the envelope of the definition. I’ve been sitting on several images that NO ONE has seen. To be able to share them in a place of prominence would be an indescribable thrill.
Whip It Good
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I had a five-foot bullwhip and was getting pretty damn good with the thing. I was 10. I’ve no idea what happened to it. It just disappeared. I blame parental fear.
I don’t believe in whipping animals. There are better means of controlling them that are more humane.
Humans, however, are a different story. Some of them ask for it, which requires just the right touch to keep from inflicting serious harm. And then, there’s the crafty ability to use a whip to disarm a person. That could come in quite handy.
A good 12-foot hand-braided whip is going to run around $1,450ish. Worth it.
Sail Away With Me
This one is all about merging my fascination with boating and photography. If we’re going to do it, let’s get some heart-stopping images out of it.
Cost is going to be the overwhelming factor here. The average price for yacht rental out of Miami is roughly $2,200/day. We might get a slightly better rate renting one for an entire month, but we’re still looking at something north of $60K.
And then, there are the models. Just go ahead and double the cost. At least. The joy of the trip might help keep rates down, but at the end of the day, everyone has bills to pay.
The potential for incredible pictures, though, makes it worth every dime. Maybe I could sell sponsorships (as if I knew how).
My books don’t sell in large numbers and, to some extent, I’m okay with that. The exception is when I think I have something wonderful and no one pays any attention. A Path in the Storm is a good example. I consider this to be among the best things I’ve ever written. It’s also a helluva lot cheaper than the photo books. However, to date, it’s only sold four copies, and three of those were mine.
Just once, I’d love to see one of my books get the attention it deserves and blow the top off the best-seller charts. That doesn’t just happen, though. There are entire PR teams involved. I can’t afford those.
Maybe if everyone I’ve ever known bought a copy, we could start a grassroots movement.
A National Holiday
Coming of age around Tahlequah, Oklahoma was a unique experience. It was there I learned a great deal about my indigenous heritage and grew to appreciate all my ancestors had sacrificed.
But I never was able to attend the National Holiday. The event is held annually on Labor Day weekend in September, and in the 1970s, involved a lot of drinking. A High School classmate was killed because of a drunk driver leaving the celebration in 1977.
Things have changed dramatically since those days, and for the better. I would love to return and photograph the entire weekend, but since I’m not a tribe member (there’s a reason), I would need permission to do so. I know I have the contacts. It just needs to happen.
I think the question almost everyone has at some point is “How will I be remembered?” What stories will be told? Will anyone care that I’m gone?
My final bucket list item, which I’m in no hurry to get achieve, is to be remembered in a way that is positive and enduring. I want people to smile when they think of the time we spent together, and I want those who missed out to feel sad that they won’t get the opportunity.
There’s no price on this one. It’s all up to me.