I have a friend who's always recommending articles from Relevant magazine. Once you start poking around their site, you can get lost in a web of articles on faith, culture, ambition, and the current state of things. Last week I read an article on 3 Steps to Determining Your Dream Job, which disappointingly, did not produce a magic eight ball response but requires a fair bit of effort on my part. This week I read an article on 20 Things Every Twentysomething Should Know How to Do. A few of my favourites from the list: Hold a Conversation with Someone of Any Age, Parallell Park, Bite Your Tongue, Be Alone. And then I stumbled upon 10 Books Everyone Should Read by 25-ish, which I found incomplete (and the Bible doesn't count).
What with all this "listing" going on, all these neatly packaged articles on what you should do and know and read (which I found both helpful and kind of box-ing), I decided to make a "list" of my own, inspired by the lists above and fueled by the things I have come to believe to be good and true in the world, things that have so prominently shaped my own life.
A very inconclusive list of 14 1/2 Things Everyone Should Do or Know How to Do, in no particular order:
1. Travel somewhere new.
This could be a neighborhood in your city, a different state, a new restaurant, and once in a while, somewhere you don't know the language. It will teach you about yourself, the world, and most definitely, put things in perspective.
2. Cook something.
The ability to cook something truly delicious is one of life's greatest joys. Make it a habit. Host a dinner party. Share recipes. Start from scratch. And enjoy!
3. Read a great piece of literature.
East of Eden. To Kill A Mockingbird. The Alchemist. My Name is Asher Lev. Pick something off your age-old "to read" list that is sure to challenge and inspire you. You might learn something about history, humanity, yourself, and you will be a better reader and writer because of it.
4. Spend time in your local library.
The public library is one of the greatest uses of our tax dollars. A quiet archive of words, at your fingertips.
5. Power-down your devices.
This is simple. We should be able to do this without issue, but we don't. It separates us from the people immediately around us. So make it as much of a habit as powering-on.
6. Opt out.
Learn to say no. It is a practice that will serve you well your entire life in a society that teaches you to always say 'yes.' Sometimes no is better.
6 1/2. Opt in.
Learn to say yes. You don't want to say no to everything, then you'll never do anything. It's especially important to say yes to those things that feel right in your gut, or those things that really challenge and inspire you.
7. Go it alone.
Community is important and essential to a well-balanced life. But in a world of 7 billion people, it can be just as important to learn to be alone. See a movie. Go out to dinner. Take a walk. Just do it alone, because you can, and sometimes, it's just what your soul needs.
8. Spend time with your grandparents, or someone's grandparents.
It's a fact: they won't be around forever. So have dinner with them, listen to their stories, learn from their mistakes. Life is a gift.
8 1/2. Spend time with children.
Another fact: they won't be young forever. They will remind you how to play, give you an excuse to be silly, and give you a reason to say and do things you wouldn't otherwise. Also, they will love you purely and authentically.
9. Give something that means something to you.
Time. Money. A meal. A coat. A photograph. Give it to someone who needs it, whose life will be better for the gift. Without a doubt, it will be an even greater blessing to the giver.
10. Walk or ride instead.
Carve out a little more time to get from A to B and opt to walk or ride there instead. You will probably take note of things you wouldn't otherwise, maybe meet some new people. And you will learn how much of the world operates walking or riding most of the time.
11. Be authentic.
This is important. Perhaps one of the greatest cries of this generation is for authenticity. So be you. There's a reason you were created that way.
12. Give it a go. Take a risk (and if you make a mistake, acknowledge it).
Don't live in fear of what you do not know. And maybe don't always base your decisions on what is "safe." In an ever-evolving world, there is always something new, different, or unknown. The fact is, you'll never know until you try it. And if it doesn't work out, it's ok.
12 1/2. Be decisive.
We live in an overwhelming world of options. We tend to deliberate over trivial matters because we have been so inundated with choice. The ability to choose is a gift. The ability to be decisive is refreshing and essential.
13. Spend time with someone who is sick, disabled, or dying.
It will put things in perspective, teach you to value your life and your abilities. And probably, it will bless them. And you.
14. Mourn with someone.
One of the hardest things to know how to do. Usually it requires more silence than speech. It is more about learning how to be present with someone, lamenting with them.
14 1/2. Celebrate with someone.
Be sure that in learning to lament, you are on the lookout for the joys. It's true what they say, "You only live once." We have been created and celebrated, so let's do the same. May you see the wonders all around you and celebrate.