The cops just pulled me over. Again. And I’ve been waiting in my car for over 20 minutes. But I’m not concerned - I haven’t committed a crime. Well, nothing serious, anyway.
You see, I have only one name on my Driver’s License: Dolphina (which is also the solitary name on my Social Security Card and Passport – which leads to more exotic delays). Right now, the police officers are most likely stupefied on precisely how to find me in their system – or wondering if I exist at all.
Then they return to my car and ask me what my ‘real’ or ‘last’ name is. To them, this is rare incident, but it happens to me all the time. Sometimes an impromptu bellydance performance or pulling my finger cymbals out of my glove compartment or dance bag suffices the average skeptic.
Tonight, the young officer asks me if my ID is fake (having a last name is a detail I wouldn’t neglect if I wanted to avoid attention). I can tell he is a rookie by his constant approval-seeking glances to his partner. So, I patiently pull out my bellydance business card and begin my well-rehearsed explanation (sometimes I include photos in my presentation).
He is flirty and when he inquires about the origin of my name, his partner steps closer to my vehicle on the passenger side shining his flashlight into my car. I share briefly that I was given my name after I was rescued by dolphins during a boating accident in the Caribbean. Now they are both enthralled. I am late for my date, but these are the authorities, so I continue.
“Inspired by my favorite book, ‘Walden’, I wanted to live off the land for a year without distractions and ‘find myself’.”
“That’s on my ‘Bucket List’!” interrupts the partner. “How did you do it?”
They are captivated with my adventurous life and I begin to encourage them to pursue their dreams, too. The rookie started taking notes! Or he was possibly writing me a ticket. Either way, they pleaded with me to carry on.
I share with them, “ I wholeheartedly believe in following your dreams – but I think ‘Bucket Lists’ are stupid.”
I continue. “I adore all my ambitions, but I don’t believe life is about this ludicrous idea of ‘manifesting your dreams at some weekend workshop in Ojai’ or checking ‘skydiving’ and ‘taking Spanish classes’ off some carefully written ‘Bucket List’. Who is keeping track if you cross ‘travel to Bali’ off your list? Furthermore, I don’t know anyone’s life that adheres to an organized ‘to do list’ – life is messy, capricious and my favorite experiences are the ones I didn’t plan.”
“My philosophy is to make all of my life a living poem. But I don’t think this can be accomplished purely by completing things on a list. I believe life is about finding ways make life’s everyday activities beautiful, fun, inspiring and sacred. We all must go to the DMV, to the doctors and the grocery store. And if I can’t find a way to turn my ordinary life’s list into the extraordinary…then I am simply existing, checking things off my list. Why would a ‘Bucket List’ be any different? All lists are meaningless if I am merely trying to finish the list. And on a somber note…when you complete your ‘Bucket List – well, the game is over.”
Afterwards, there was a profound existential pause as we all nodded. Agreeing, thinking, questioning.
Then I asked, “Is there any way you could you tear up that speeding ticket? I’ve never got a ticket before and want to keep my clean record.” After a long silence I added, “It’s on my ‘Bucket List’”.