1852 – 2013; little has changed …

Posted on May 11, 2013


iStock_000009536221XSmall1I listened during my run this morning to The School of Greatness, one of my favourite podcasts.  This week’s inspirational character was Ben Nemtin from The Buried List.

For anyone not in the know, back in 2006, these four guys, college kids at the time, were feeling a little disillusioned with their place in the world and after a lot of plotting and planning, dreaming and scheming, they wound up creating a bucket list of all the things they wished to do before they die.  They’ve ended up becoming HUGE in the US by following their dreams, ticking off their list and helping total strangers realise their own dreams as they do so. They now have their own show on MTV called The Buried List.

Now, I’m no stranger to the concept of bucket lists … nor striving for and ticking them off. But what really captivated me was where the term ‘The Buried List’ came from.  Turns out it is the name of a poem written by Matthew Arnold in 1852. It’s super long but the words that resonate most are these:

But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,

But often, in the din of strife,

There rises an unspeakable desire

After the knowledge of our buried life;

A thirst to spend our fire and restless force

In tracking out our true, original course;

A longing to inquire

Into the mystery of this heart which beats

So wild, so deep in us—to know

Whence our lives come and where they go.

Beautiful words! I find it fascinating that this poet, all those years ago in 1852, identified and so eloquently conveyed such a relevant feature in our lives today … how the day-to-day stuff often buries us and we forget what we’re truly passionate about in our lives. Just look around and we’re surrounded by people who are just doing their job, fulfilling their responsibilities, existing but not being, living but not creating. Are you one of those?

We should all, to the greatest extent possible, identify our goals, uncover our dreams and then strive to make them real. ‘But often, in the world’s most crowded streets, But often, in the din of strife, There rises an unspeakable desire After the knowledge of our buried life …’

We shouldn’t feel like the whole world is on top of us … instead we should dig through and live our buried lives. We should remember, every day, that our lives are short, previous and therefore worth celebrating.

So, the next time you find yourself daydreaming, let your mind wander towards the things you’d really like to do and accomplish during your life and put them on paper. Then take as many small steps as you need to take towards reaching them.  “To reach a port, we must sail—sail, not tie at anchor—sail, not drift.” Franklin Roosevelt’s words, not mine!

I researched their story a little further post run and had to laugh when the boys were asked during an interview what they considered the most difficult things on their list to conquer.  Now given that they’ve already managed to play basketball with Obama, gatecrash one of Hugh Heffners infamous parties at the Playboy Mansion and be on Oprah, their reply left me just a little surprised. It was … ‘go to space, fall in love and run a marathon’. Now I can’t yet comment on going to space but falling in love and running a marathon? Both pretty easy in the grand scheme of things and both pretty similar in many ways, well marathons and marriage anyway … something I’ve written about before!

What’s on your buried list?

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