If all has to be considered…

It hit me a few minutes ago, as I wrapped up my workday and got my stuff together to go to my second job (yes, I work two jobs; most of you have known this already), that so far, I’ve accomplished pretty much everything in Major Life Goals that I wanted to..and hell, some things that I didn’t want to, as well.

But I think my Bucket List needs some revisions.

I’m sure I’ve done a post about looking forward to turning 30 and looking forward to seeing what accomplishments are out there to conquer. However, right now, especially as I’m planning out my travel calendar, I’m looking at where to go, what to see, etc. And I see that already, I’ve been nearly everywhere I wanted to – and need to go to other places too.

In 2011, I started a ‘tradition’ of sorts by doing a trip on or around my birthday month to celebrate. Why 2011? That was the first time I went to Newport Beach Jazz Fest. My actual birthday, May 13th, was spent in the air cross-country to California (first Cali visit as well, and if ever was there a love at first sight with a location, then California is it), and then in a celebration with my online jazz friends, most of whom I was meeting in person for the very first time that day. Trust my words when I say that to this day, this ranks on my Best Birthdays list. There’s a lot of love to be found with people, and people like my friends have more love than I thought was even possible. I’ve said it before and I can’t say it enough: I seriously struck gold when it comes to friendships. No joke.

2012 was Newport Beach again. It fell the week after my birthday, but oh, so worth it again. 2013…good grief, where did I go? Probably out to NJ to Trumpets? Philly? Not much but still a fabulous trip. 2014 I stayed put, I think.

This year I’m back to jet-setting. I’ve looked forward to this for a while, but it only now hit me, in conversation with another accountant, just how incredibly lucky I am to have this sort of a life. It’s not an easy life by any means; I have nothing to my name but my work, my wits, and my skills. But so far, I have been lucky to see, and commemorate, some of the most amazing people and events.

I think I want to either amend or expand my bucket list.

I’m approaching payoff on my student loans. There’s some years to go – yes, years – before that yoke is finally off my neck, but considering that I am starting to see the light at the end of this particular tunnel, I guess you can say that it’s a good sign. Think on it, though: considering that the bankruptcy law restructure of 2005 has completely eliminated student loans as dischargeable debt – therefore ensuring the only way out of them is to pay in full – even getting to where you can see and maybe do a projection to pay them off within a reasonable timeframe is already a big, huge, massive plus. As I discovered the hard way, student loans can, and do, cripple your financial state until they’re dealt with. Want a house? Need a car? NOPE, Sallie Mae and Dept. of Education come first.

I’ve written on this before, and possibly will write on this again, but now’s not the time.

And the thing is, this is actually the exact reason I’m thinking on the future. I see the end of the student loan yoke. And I wonder what it frees me up to do next. It makes me feel like there is, indeed, a future of things to do, people to see, goals to achieve, things that I actually will be able to accomplish. I have friends far and wide all over the world that I want to visit. There are places that I’ve yet to go to, photos I’ve yet to take, exotic foods I’ve yet to taste. For the first time since I graduated college, I’m actually starting to believe what everyone and their cousin told me when I was younger: you can do anything you want if you have the ability and the capacity to do so.

I have the capacity. Always had. You guys know my gumption. But seeing as money is a great determinant of things, and seeing as I, well, to be very frank, have none of it on account of the student loan yoke, that’s what ability boils down to. And right now, though I’m still honestly living like I did when I first graduated college, I’m starting to see that I may well have the ability to do what I want in a few years.

I want to fly and visit Sweden in a few years. Just because.

See the Northern Lights in Norway or Iceland.

Take the Celebrity Cruises trans-Pacific voyage, which isn’t a music cruise at all, which is 1. prohibitively expensive and 2. involves entirely too long on the water for my liking, but I want to take it… because it departs from Sydney, Australia and wraps up in Hawaii. I have friends in both ports, so I may see Hannah again – in her hometown, this time! – and get a lei while I get my sea legs back.

Go to Scotland and do a distillery tour… maybe for my fortieth birthday, I’ll do exactly that. :)

See Machu Picchu and Easter Island for myself.

Yes, yes, I know, it’s dreaming out loud for now. All of those trips are staggering in cost, and considering that I have spent my entire life calculating the cost and value of everything down to the last and final penny, I am torn between having these experiences – which, to me, are magic waiting to happen – and holding on to my cash The trips I take already are budgeted and counter-budgeted around a lot of things. You may call it being fiscally responsible. I call it a bad habit.

My ex-coworker once asked me, “How do you live life on a spreadsheet?”

You’d be amazed how easy it is to micromanage money if money is the only thing you can control.

So I’m revising the bucket list of places to visit, but on top of it, I also need to add this: alter your priorities, so that these dreams and these sights can become real. Because let’s face it: until now, even though I have been working on achieving my life goals best I could, my primary focus was surviving.

And it’s not a bad thing, you know? I did learn how to survive, and thrive while at it.

But apart from surviving, I want to take a shot at, well… living.

K.G.

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