It was the day before my sister-in-law’s funeral. Our dear Ann had passed away at age 53 from lung cancer.
The grief and sadness hung heavy in the air.
It seemed to make perfect sense, though, for me to still participate in a scheduled interview for a local women’s magazine about the importance of “bucket lists”.
A bucket list is basically a list of things to do before you die. Although, I prefer to think of it instead as a list of things to do while you’re alive (I like to put a positive spin on things). It’s a fun exercise because it encourages you to dream a bit and think about things that you’d really love to do. They can be big things such as “Travel to Africa” or little things like “Take a cooking class”.
At the beginning of the phone interview, Amy, the delightful interviewer from the magazine, asked me whether or not I thought it was important to have a bucket list. Hearing that particular question on that particular day, made me feel like I was in kindergarten. No offense at all to her! I knew the question was coming, and it was an important one to start off the interview.
However, I had just recently experienced an all-night vigil at the hospice with Ann, along with many of her cherished loved ones. Then, I was at the foot of her bed as she took her final earthly breaths. A privilege of the highest order.
So, the question felt so elementary – similar to asking a kid if they like to play. Of course they do.
So, hell yeah. A bucket list is important.
Raise your hand if you ever get so caught up in the day-to-day “routine” of life that you lose sight of joyful moments. Or you forget your priorities and what’s most important to you. Or you compromise your own aliveness amidst the busyness. I’ll be the first to raise my hand, and it’s a daily practice to remind myself to connect with the bigger picture of life and the things that bring me joy.
My coaching work is focused strongly on helping my clients pause from the busyness and the distractions of daily life and connect with who they really are at the core and what lights them up. That’s part of the magic of coaching.
We did the interview and it was very profound and meaningful, especially on that particular day of my life. We talked about bucket lists in the general sense, and after we hung up, I felt compelled to send Amy an email because I thought I had something else important to say. My follow-up message said:
“I created a bucket list a few years ago and one of the items on the list says ‘Front row for The Rolling Stones’. At that point, when I first wrote it down, it certainly sounded like the band wouldn’t be touring again. Shoot. However…now their 50th Anniversary tour is all set, and I just happen to have 11th row tickets for one of their shows in Chicago! I’m really happy with those seats, but who’s to say that I won’t get upgraded ten rows and get those front-row seats I imagined?”
I continued, “Knowing my track record, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened!”
I sent the email, and Amy mentioned that she might include the info in her article. Because I couldn’t leave it alone, I sent her another email shortly afterwards that said:
“How about this for a footnote to your article: ‘Update: Michelle Stimpson and her husband thoroughly enjoyed the Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary show in Chicago from…yep, you guessed it – the FRONT ROW! Congratulations, Michelle!’”
It’s fun to play with this stuff. In fact, Amy replied with some confusion and wasn’t sure if the concert had already taken place or if I was visualizing it. Brilliant! The Law of Attraction was already working. That’s exactly the way our brains work, too – they don’t know the difference between fact or fiction, so it’s important to be very mindful of what you tell yourself. I reassured Amy, though, and said that nothing had changed on my end – I was simply “acting as if”. :)
Staying open to something better
So, we had our 11th row seats for the greatest rock and roll band of all time and we were totally pumped. And we knew that everything would work out perfectly, just as it was meant to. I had put my request out to the universe for front row, and if we were supposed to be there, it would happen. How? I didn’t know – that part wasn’t up to me. But what was up to me was to hold on to my passion, my positive attitude, my pure intentions, my faith and belief, and of course – my persistence in checking for tickets.
Then, one day when I felt nudged to look for tickets, 5th row had opened up! I wanted to grab them right away, but for a moment I panicked about having two sets of tickets. What if we couldn’t sell our originals?
I was able to reach Bill at work and we both agreed that we had to get those tickets. Normally, I would never be concerned about having a couple extra sets of tickets. However. These tickets were priced like no other show we had ever seen. Ever! In a recent article I read, it noted that each Rolling Stones concertgoer who sat on the main floor or lower level…would be paying $26/song. Ha! I quickly did the math, and that meant $52/song for the Stimpsons…and the show was 2½ hours long. So, I didn’t want to have an extra pair of those pricey tickets on my hands – I needed to sell ‘em!
Maybe you’ve read about how we love to give tickets away or sell them to others for much less than what we paid. It’s how we like to roll, but this one we couldn’t quite swing.
I sent emails to my contacts in Chicago. We put a listing on craigslist and StubHub.
After a couple of days, nothing. Geez, what to do?
Then I made the announcement on Facebook. Within minutes, I got a message from a dear friend here in Minneapolis who just happened to see my post on Facebook, and she said that her husband, John, wanted the tickets. When I learned the details and read her message out loud to Bill, he and I both got choked up.
Her message to me said: “SOLD! To a guy who is currently in California for his buddy’s funeral. I can’t tell you how amazing the timing of this is…a big dose of JOY in the midst of a very tough weekend. His buddy was bigger than life and lived it to the fullest. Dropping everything and going to this concert out of town is not something my husband would normally do, but his friend would have done it in a heartbeat and we see this as a sign from him.”
Woah. So, maybe we found those new tickets just so that we could transfer our other great seats to John? Everything always works out how it’s supposed to. The synchronicity of it all is truly magical. We learned later that John would plan to surprise his teenage son with a father-son trip to Chicago and excellent seats to a band they both loved. Awesome.
There was no doubt in our minds that this trip was going to be a memorable one for us. Have you heard about what happens when we embark on an out-of-town concert adventure? Just go here, here, and here for a few super cool stories.
We were so excited to be a part of rock and roll history and participate in The Rolling Stones’ FIFTIETH Anniversary tour. Wow! Bill and I like to celebrate everything and make everything a big deal. So, I found us great t-shirts to commemorate the event:
The party started as soon as we got on the plane. We were among ten people (at least, that we knew of) who were flying out for the next day’s show! Everyone was so amped up, and I was thinking how cool it was that all those people were making this gig a priority.
After we landed in Chicago, we enjoyed the city a bit, and it was fun to keep running into people on the streets who were wearing Stones shirts like us. We’d either pass each other with a mutual “Woohoo!!!” or “It’s gonna to be a great show!”…or a high-five, or of course there was the good ol’ wink-and-a-nod that seemed to transcend anything that words might convey.
The big night
The next night, we found a great pub near the venue for happy hour and dinner before the show. We got there early (go figure) and positioned ourselves at the bar with a great view of the door. 80% of the people who walked in had big tongue logos on their shirts – ha! It was great people-watching.
After our pizza and beers, we walked down the street to the arena.
Once we got in, our first item of business was to head straight to our seats – we could barely wait! We felt such gratitude as we walked all the way down the steps and across the main floor. We knew that with the way the stage was set up, our 5th row seats would probably be even closer to the stage than normal. And we were right. They were actually 2nd row! AAAAHHHH!!! Soooo unbelievably excited.
We walked around the arena and met people from all four corners of the country, and as far away as Brazil. Couples, families, groups of girls, groups of guys, die-hard fans…we saw it all. The energy and aliveness in the arena concourse was on-flippin’-fire.
We looked for the guys from back home who had our original tickets. What a true delight to see this sweet father and son team thoroughly soaking in the whole experience. They were both wearing brand new concert t-shirts and sporting larger-than-life smiles. It was so fun to share in all the excitement with them (talking shop about our favorite songs, etc.) and you could tell that this trip was one that neither of them would forget.
It was an honor to be in their presence, and we were inspired by the way John made this special trip a priority to experience with his son, Eric.
We went back to our seats and noticed something interesting. Almost everyone around us was wearing VIP laminates around their necks and they had bags of merchandise. Aha, I knew exactly what that meant as I recalled the deal on Ticketmaster. These fans had actually paid waaaay more than we paid for our tickets.
Woah. I realized how lucky we were to have our seats – ones that most others paid $2,000 for! We silently gave thanks to our Ticket Angels who always get us the best. Whew!
After a quick reflection on how blessed we were, the lights went down. We, and everyone near us, immediately shifted over to the railing in front of the stage.
Oh. My. Gosh. We were right up front.
Interesting sidenote: A few months ago when we were initially looking for tickets, I printed out the seating chart so we could visualize where we wanted to sit. No matter how many times I tried, the dang seating chart would not print out in full! The main floor sections wouldn’t show and I could only get it to print like this:
At the time, I was so frustrated, but now it’s funny that the red arrow shows exactly where we ended up standing for the entire show anyway - we didn’t need to see the rest of the seating chart! There was just enough room on the printout for our two spots. How’s that for a turn of events?
The show started out with a bang, of course, and to be so close and personal with these legendary rockstars…was priceless. The magnitude of this special experience felt like a once-in-a-lifetime deal…
The guys were totally on top of their game. Alive, vibrant, laser-focused and present, and so amazingly “real”. Their musicianship was on fire, and with their legendary status and classic tunes and riffs -they brought down the freakin’ house.
Many people around me were dancing and shouting and jumping up and down. But if I had been able to stand back and observe myself, I know I would have seen something totally different. I was leaning against the railing, with my elbows on top. My eyes were wide open and my jaw was completely dropped…during the whole show. I could feel my deer-in-the-headlights look as I was in awe and total wonder at the entire experience.
I don’t think I’ve ever had that intense of an experience at a concert before.
When the haunting and beautiful “Gimme Shelter” bellowed throughout the arena’s interior, I had to wonder: “Am I really here?”
The nostalgia was over-the-top. All these songs have been a part of the soundtrack to my life for my 44 years.
There’s simply no match for The Rolling Stones.
Here’s a video I found on YouTube from one of my many favorite moments of the evening:
I’m currently reading guitarist Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life, which is giving me a whole new appreciation for the Stones’ music (great read – highly recommended!).
There was one particular portion of the book that really struck me…it’s about “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” – a song that’s been around forever (and happens to be way too overplayed). In the past, if it came on the radio, I always changed the station as I’ve heard the song a million times before.
But reading this description of Keith’s reverence for the song, totally shifted my mindset:
“These crucial, wonderful riffs that just came, I don’t know where from. I’m blessed with them and I can never get to the bottom of them. When you get a riff like ‘Flash’ you get a great feeling of elation, a wicked glee.”
“I can hear the whole band take off behind me every time I play ‘Flash’ – there’s this extra sort of turbo overdrive. You jump on the riff and it plays you. We have ignition? OK, let’s go. Darryl Jones will be right next to me, on bass. ‘What are we on now, ‘Flash’? OK, let’s go, one two three…’ And then you don’t look at each other again, because you know you’re in for the ride now.”
“Levitation is probably the closest analogy to what I feel…when I realize I’ve hit the right tempo and the band’s behind me. It’s like taking off in a Learjet. I have no sense that my feet are touching the ground. I’m elevated to this other space. People say, ‘Why don’t you give it up?’ I can’t retire until I croak. I don’t think they quite understand what I get out of this. I’m not doing it just for the money or for you. I’m doing it for me.”
Keith, what you’re talking about here is what I would call “following your joy”, plain and simple. It’s the stuff that keeps us alive, keeps us going. Keeps us engaged in “life”.
It’s why I created this blog.
So, this is what does it for Keith Richards. It doesn’t matter what does it for you or what does it for me – that’s irrelevant. But whatever it is for each of us, we simply have to embrace it.
I didn’t think it was possible to cry during “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (come on, seriously?), but when I heard that song live and watched Keith give birth to it…it touched my soul to the core.
While I was so excited to be up close to the action (understatement), I was so mesmerized by the entire show that I didn’t even make the connection to something huge and really important.
Then as the show went on, it dawned on me.
I was leaning on the railing and waving to Keith as he flashed a mischievous smile in our direction from just a few feet away. I looked at Bill and shouted over the loud music: “AAAHHH!!!!” Bill waited for me to finish, and then I yelled: “BUCKET!!! LIST!!!”
It was then that I realized…
I was actually experiencing my bucket list item.
It was a 2½ hour epic and teary experience of placing a big fat checkmark on a treasured line item for this lover of life and of rock and roll.
I have no doubt that Bill’s sister, Ann, with the rock and roll spirit she exuded in her earlier years – was right there with us, living it up. They say when you find a penny on the ground, it means that someone who has left this life is thinking of you. Well, when I took a (very quick) bathroom break during the show, I happened to find two pennies on the floor.
So, back to the initial question: “Is a bucket list important?”
Would my amazing experience have happened without it?
You be the judge.