When I was a kid, I watched this movie about a girl with leukaemia. She had a list of 50 things she wanted to do before she died, and at the end of the film, I wrote a list of my own. I keep losing and rewriting the list, so I don’t how many of the original items are still there. Once in a while I take it out and replace things with more relevant activities. Other times, I cross them off completely, when they no longer seem worth doing.

Lately, I’ve made a more conscious effort to do the things on my bucket list. Two years ago, I went horse riding, but I didn’t enjoy it. Last year, I went rollerblading. I didn’t particularly like that either, though I did lose quite a few kilos, judging by the way I was sweating. Apparently, rollerblading is good exercise.

In my defence, I quite enjoy ice falling skating
In my defence, I quite enjoy ice falling skating

I’d read about that in books and things, about the fitness benefits of shoes with wheels. And all the instructors at the skater park were deliciously skinny. The girls weren’t quite so small, but then I’ve always heard it said that guys shed weight faster. I don’t know why those wheeled shoes shed pounds. I mean, it doesn’t look like you’re actually doing anything except standing. But between bending your back and knees, maintaining your balance and trying not to break things, you actually do burn calories.

Princess and I had three lessons a piece. By the end of those three hours, I could stand on my blades without falling, get up unassisted after falling, and sometimes stop myself mid-free-fall. Yes, I do notice the emphasis on falling. In those same three hours, the princess was skating backwards, doing rollerblade limbo, and running jumps over street-hockey sticks.

At some point, soaked in sweat and sore from falling, I sat in a corner and watched the kids.  I wondered why it was so easy for them, why they seemed to catch on so fast. My theory is they’re less wary, less self-conscious. They’re not afraid of getting hurt, looking stupid, breaking rules, or doing it wrong. To them, it’s a fun new adventure and a way to move fast. (Apart from the instructors, there were only two adults on skates, with maybe fifteen kids. My fellow adult was skating with her three year-old twins.)

I’d always daydreamed of zooming along the tarmac on my rollerblades, but the actual blading wasn’t nearly as much fun. In fact, it was barely fun at all, just really exhausting. It might be because I was concentrating so hard on not losing any teeth. Maybe if I practice more, spend some time on it, I might start to like it. But then again, it only takes one spoon of ice cream to get hooked, so maybe rollerblading simply isn’t for me.

Rollerblading_by_interception_7

For some reason, that makes me sad. At least two things that I’ve always wanted to do have ended up as duds. So how many more items on my bucket list are non-starters? And how many things I’ve sworn never to try might end up being fun? Like … oh … I don’t know … bungee jumping? I am so confused right now.

Over the holidays, I went to Lake Victoria for a stroll. I’ve always loved water. Or rather, I’ve always thought I loved water. When I lived in Dar, I’d spend hours at the beach just listening to the waves. I did swim in the ocean once or twice, but it didn’t give me the pleasure I anticipated – the current was too strong and all those sea animals creeped me out. So that’s one more bucket-list item that flopped.

Meanwhile, being at the beach (and inside the ocean) in Mombasa felt like such an anti-climax. The energy was all wrong. It felt almost oppressive. And as for Lake Victoria, rather than the waters being soothing and serene like they are in my dreams and in my poetry, the waves were rough and angry, the atmosphere indifferent.

I’m often accused of spending too much time in my head. Reality will never quite compare, even on the few occasions I dare to take a peek and scope things out. I have no sense of adventure, and I don’t feel the need to experience things for myself. I’m quite content to read books about people doing exciting things and fill the details in my mind. Life is so much better in my imagination, and in a way, that’s really, really sad, because I guess it means that I’m not really living. And yet, for now, I’m quite okay with that.

♫ Wild Thing ♫ The Troggs ♫

123 thoughts on “When reality bites

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