Addicted to novelty since 2001

An update to 100 things to do before I die

A little over nine years ago, I started creating a list of 100 things to do before I die. I wrote up the initial 20. They look like this:


  1. Live in a house built to my specifications
  2. Play ice hockey (beer league will do)
  3. Live in a third-world country
  4. Completely research my family history
  5. Be interviewed on the CBC
  6. Own a dog
  7. Own another cat
  8. Own a hybrid or electric car
  9. Live by the ocean
  10. Drive across Canada
  11. Visit Patagonia
  12. Visit Vietnam
  13. See a play of mine produced
  14. Read 100 more of the books on Harold Bloom’s Western Canon.
  15. Work as a film critic
  16. Read Ulysses by James Joyce
  17. Build or skate in an ice rink in the Republic of Ireland
  18. Change careers
  19. Hike the Cabot trail
  20. Become passably fluent in French

I’ve recently been clearing out some storage boxes, random electronics (thank you, Free Geek Vancouver) and books. In an old notebook, I found these handwritten additions to my original 20 items:

  1. Visit Israel
  2. Visit Egypt
  3. Visit South Africa
  4. Plant a vegetable garden
  5. Kayak somewhere for at least a week
  6. Bike somewhere for at least a week
  7. Open my own business
  8. Not work for a year
  9. Get a Master’s degree
  10. Volunteer abroad for a time
  11. Work with animals
  12. Publish a book

Whew, that’s a measly 32 items. It’s actually pretty tricky to think of 100 things I want to do before I die. What does that say about me? Charitably, I’m a realist. Cruelly, I’ve got a pathetic lack of imagination. I’ve put my mind to it, though, and here are 18 more things. I reserve the right to include a couple that were definitely lifelong aspirations that I’ve achieved in the past few years:

  1. Publish a novel
  2. See the wildebeest migration at Ngorongoro Crater
  3. See my great uncle Ross’s grave in Kiel, Germany
  4. Walk Juno Beach on the anniversary of D-Day
  5. Become a patron of the arts (whatever that means)
  6. Catch a fish
  7. Catch a fish using a speargun
  8. Take a multi-day train trip
  9. Run 5 km without puking
  10. See the aurora borealis
  11. Learn how to competently play jazz guitar, in the django style
  12. Visit all of Canada’s provinces and territories
  13. See the Sahara desert
  14. Visit New Zealand
  15. Visit Seychelles
  16. Volunteer on an archeaological dig
  17. Take some singing lessons
  18. Spend 40 days totally alone, without any modern technology

Whew. Halfway there. And now, the complete list, with the ones I’ve actually completed. I’d better pick up the pace:


  1. Live in a house built to my specifications
  2. Play ice hockey (beer league will do)
  3. Live in a third-world country
  4. Completely research my family history
  5. Be interviewed on the CBC
  6. Own a dog
  7. Own another cat
  8. Own a hybrid or electric car
  9. Live by the ocean
  10. Drive across Canada
  11. Visit Patagonia
  12. Visit Vietnam
  13. See a play of mine produced
  14. Read 100 more of the books on Harold Bloom’s Western Canon
  15. Work as a film critic
  16. Read Ulysses by James Joyce
  17. Build or skate in an ice rink in the Republic of Ireland
  18. Change careers
  19. Hike the Cabot trail
  20. Become passably fluent in French
  21. Visit Israel
  22. Visit Egypt
  23. Visit South Africa
  24. Plant a vegetable garden
  25. Kayak somewhere for at least a week
  26. Bike somewhere for at least a week
  27. Open my own business
  28. Not work for a year
  29. Get a Master’s degree
  30. Volunteer abroad for a time
  31. Work with animals
  32. Publish a book
  33. Publish a novel
  34. See the wildebeest migration at Ngorongoro Crater
  35. See my great uncle Ross’s grave in Kiel, Germany
  36. Walk Juno Beach on the anniversary of D-Day
  37. Become a patron of the arts
  38. Catch a fish
  39. Catch a fish using a speargun
  40. Take a multi-day train trip
  41. Run 5 km without puking
  42. See the aurora borealis
  43. Learn how to competently play jazz guitar, in the django style
  44. Visit all of Canada’s provinces and territories
  45. See the Sahara desert
  46. Visit New Zealand
  47. Visit Seychelles
  48. Volunteer on an archaeological dig
  49. Take some singing lessons
  50. Spend 40 days totally alone, without any modern technology

I’m open to suggestions. What would you add to my list?

9 Responses to “An update to 100 things to do before I die”

  1. Beth

    I like that “playing hockey” is on your list. If you ever want to go out for some stick & puck practice, let me know!

  2. christine

    Ali and I wrote our list when we first got married in 94 and it prompted me to dig it up. I have a few items on there which are very odd.

    Visit Edinburgh Castle– I’ve only been there a dozen times or some but never went in..

    See Nelson Mandela wearing a fancy shirt — I remember when he came to London in the late 90’s. Did I go see him? No of course, the crowds would have put me off.

    The best one though is near the end – retire in the Muskoka or the Ottawa Valley? WHAT? That is so not going to happen.

    Clearly I should give my list more attention and act on it.

    Here are a few items that might be of interest:
    – Attend an opera in Vienna or Prague
    – See a Chicago Bull game
    – See a heard of cariboo
    – Walk on the great wall of China
    – Visit Hong Kong
    – Eat a chapati on the streets of Calcutta
    – Attend a rugby World Cup match
    – Climb Ayers Rock
    – Sail into a Fjord

  3. Jen

    Your post reminds me I keep meaning to write down my own list.

    Maggie Mason at mightygirl.com has a number of interesting options on her list that may inspire some new items for yours.

    And personally, knowing how you feel about the chore of eating, I’d like to see some food-related things on your list. Try something new, learn a foreign preparation, or even try an elimination diets (go vegan perhaps?) to see how you feel.

  4. Gaston

    Well, if you decide to come to Patagonia we’ll love to help you get around !

  5. Roshan

    I love some of your lists. I must do mine soon, I’m 35 already. I’ve had a few things that I’ve wanted to do for a long time – some of them I have done and some of them are pipe dreams. My biggest is to one day visit Canada, if not live there, and see some of her fabulous cities & towns.

  6. 205guy

    Cool post idea. Some of the better ideas from my mental list (not already on yours):

    Organize/digitize my life’s scrapbooks, photo albums, unsorted prints, and digital photos.

    Organize/digitize all the music I’ve cared about in my life, including those 20 or so cassettes I recorded and remixed off the radio in high school.

    Visit the Great White North (think DEW line) and walk/trek on pack ice.

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