Andrew Gall is my guest today and he has one thing he wants to talk about: Lists. Why? Because he wrote the greatest bucket list book ever, Make Your Own Bucket List: How To Design Yours Before You Kick It. Take it away, Andrew.
Paper Towels. Finasteride. Freeway. These are three items from my current list of things to do.
I’ve made lists for as long as I can remember. But what I’ve begun to realize is that these lists give me nothing but grief.
The things listed above, while eclectic, represent an odd cross-section of annoyances.
Paper towels, because we’re out of them and I need to pick some up at the store.
Finasteride, for those who don’t know, is the Propecia generic. Propecia is the drug that is supposed to maintain your hair amount and thickness, i.e. keep you from going bald. I’ve been taking Propecia off and on for nine years or so, and now I’m needing to fill a prescription for the generic. Hence, making a doctor’s appointment. In other words, another annoyance.
Freeway is a tricky one. I’m a big fan of hip hop music, always have been. But in this day and age, I find myself overcome with musical options to load onto my Shuffle (I still use a Shuffle rather than loading music on my iPhone, as I’m a pretty frequent runner and commute listener and I find it works best for that). Writing down the name “Freeway” reminds me to load the Philadelphia rapper’s latest album the next time I’ve got free space.
Why did I just type almost a couple hundred words on such minutiae from a guy you’ve never met and a guy you may not even care to know?
Making all these lists, as I do, also gives me a perverse pleasure when I cross things off. I think that it’s actually why I do this. I like to feel accomplished. Not in the sense of “I ate that whole half rack of ribs” or “I really aced that final exam” accomplished, but accomplished in the sense that I made it through the day, did a couple worthwhile things, and am a somewhat responsible apartment renting and wage earning 33 year old.
But what I’ve come to realize in my years of making lists, crossing things off, and writing down random hip hop groups or albums (Cunninglynguists, et al.) in miniature type in a miniature note pad makes me seem like a crazy person. And people who have been unfortunate enough to witness said notebook scribblings have said exactly as much.
So! While I haven’t exactly had an epiphany, and I still write down and cross off much minutiae on a daily basis, I have learned something: lists can be meaningful, so it’s up to you to make them so.
There are a million “bucket lists” out there on the Internet, in print, or even from your mom’s mouth. But none of these people know you. Your idiosyncrasies. Your intricacies. Your strange obsession with cured meats. And therefore, a bucket list needs to be made by someone who knows you: you.
So I made a book about it. Instead of talking at you, it talks with you. It’s a two-way conversation. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun. You get to write things down, draw pictures, and choose between slipping on a banana peel and accidentally pronouncing Russian roulette as “Russian roulay” as a potential embarrassment.
And best of all, when you write something down in this book, because it’s part of your bucket list, it automatically becomes significant. So when you eventually accomplish the shit out of it, it’s going to feel awesome.
Andrew Gall is the author of the disparate tomes “Everything is Better with a Gorilla”, “Mommy, What’s a Seattle Supersonic?” (iTunes e-book only), and “Make Your Own Bucket List: How to Design Yours Before You Kick It.” By day, he’s an advertising Creative Director/Copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather in Chicago, and also writes occasionally for McSweeney’s. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife Megan, and was born and raised in Seattle, Washington.