About the Project

Me, age 40, at the Culinary Institute of America’s Culinary Boot Camp (2012). The list of 45 things was formulating at the time.

Who knew a harmless little project of watching 365 movies in one year would lead to this? In 2009, I was just bored and wanted something to occupy my time, that’s all. I did watch 365 movies in one year. I loved some of them, (Mulholland Drive, Vanishing Point, the Vanishing among others). I couldn’t stand some of them (no need to name names here). But the significant thing was, I watched every one of them from start to finish. And it was hugely satisfying when I watched the credits rolled for the 365th one  (which was a fantastic little film called The Lookout). The high of accomplishing that goal has affected me deeply, which gives you an idea of my goal-reaching success rate prior to this.  (By the way, watching 365 movies in a year is NOT as easy as it sounds! You can read about my thoughts on those movies on my personal blog). 

Next, I wanted to learn cooking. I figured that, at the age of 39, I had mastered the art of heating up frozen dinners, and it was about time to progress to something slightly more challenging. In 2010, I made 60 different recipes in the first 3 months of this “learn-to-cook” project. Not exactly Julie & Julia, but my goal was simply to try cooking from scratch. I am happy to say that I’m completely in love with cooking now, and I even enrolled in a 5-day Culinary Institute of America’s Culinary Boot Camp for my 40th birthday in 2012.

Speaking of my 40th, that was when I came up with the idea of this project. Strictly speaking, I started thinking about it as my birthday loomed. Mid-life crisis, you say? Well, that’s mighty optimistic to assume I have 40 more years to live. A lot of people have what they call “bucket lists”, things they want to do before it’s all over. The problem I see with that is, how are you going to know when it’s going to be all over? It could be 40 years, it could be 40 days!  A list for 40 days would be very different from a list for 40 years. You can forget about learning Russian if it’s 40 days! 

Besides, waiting until the last minute to do things has always been my strength, along with saying that my weaknesses are my strengths. For someone to do things last minute, it is rather crucial to know when the last minute is going to be. Therefore, instead of making a “bucket list”, I would have to make a bucket list with a “deadline”. It is not simply a wish list. It is a list of things I truly want to do. It is a personal list. I wouldn’t say it’s not ambitious, but it’s not nearly as crazy as, for example, this famous one by John Goddard, who made it when he was 15 and has actually accomplished most of them. I highly recommend checking his list out, just to see what an extraordinary life one can live when you set goals.

Being a, hmm, “structured procrastinator“, I knew I would always need a to do list, so I’d always have some “lesser” things to do while I procrastinate over doing something supposedly more important. I know the procrastinating time in next 5 years will be plenty, it would only make sense to have 45 meaningful things to do during those times.

Come up with the 45 things was much more difficult than I expected. (Here is a very good blog post about creating such a list). In the process, I had to look hard at myself. Who am I? What kind of life do I want to live? I tried to think back to when I was younger, an age when you’re optimistic and idealistic. I tried to remember what I imagined I would be like at 40. I know I wanted to be a worldly person, a person with many interests, someone who is suave, sophisticated, knowledgeable, and to top it off, also fun to be with. A non-violent James Bond, if you will. So looking good in a tux is a must as well, especially when I go to casinos. I aim to bring some class to playing the slots. I once wanted to be really wealthy, but that’s not important anymore. (Not to say I’d turn away money!). I’d like to be a giving person, a kind person. I wanted to be a filmmaker, but being in that profession is not important as creating something artistic that I could be proud of. I want to be a courageous person. And I want to be a healthy person. Not too much to ask for, is it? I believe that by doing these 45 things, by living that journey, I can get closer to become that “ideal” person that I want to be – basically, a fulfilled, happy person.  

Here is my list of 45 things. What’s on yours?


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