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About Dreams and Bucket Lists…

By Steve Wecker

Several years ago, after she had eaten tacos in Tijuana, my daughter Ryan surprised me by announcing, “Now I can check that off my bucket list.”

Ever since the phrase was popularized by the 2008 Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson movie, I’d assumed a bucket list is for an old person, someone looking toward the end of life. But my daughter, whose bucket list includes seeing the Minnesota Twins with her twin brother, owning a jeep and adopting a child, reminded me that acquiring experiences in life is much more valuable than acquiring possessions.

Ryan’s declaration inspired me to collect wish lists from my five children and, at holiday time, I pick a few items from each to fulfill in the coming year. We recently knocked three from Ryan’s list by visiting Cinque Terre, the towns built along the rugged Italian coast; eating pasta in Florence and hitting Oktoberfest in Munich in one trip to Europe. I’d had no interest in Oktoberfest, but ended up loving it—proof that other people’s bucket lists can broaden your own mind and your experiences.

Other family members have joined in the fun. Ryan’s husband, for example, blindfolded her to take her out to dinner, thus satisfying her fantasy of going on a blind date. And my wife, Patti, put together a road trip to knock off a few of my dreams: eating barbecue in Texas and beignets in New Orleans, ordering the specials at a handful of diners, drive-ins and dives.

I got myself a clean paint can and filled it with slips of paper describing things I want to do with Patti. I want to stand with her at the edge of the Grand Canyon to watch the sun rise. I want to have lunch with her at the Eiffel Tower and read the stories I’ve written to our grandchildren before bedtime.

Dreams are important, even if you don’t always get to see them through. Sometimes I buy a lottery ticket—not because I think I’ll win, but because I like to walk around with the ticket in my pocket, imagining what I’ll do if I hit the jackpot. Then I think of all the experiences I’ve shared with my family and realize that I already have.


Steve Wecker is principle in the Wecker Hospitality Group, which owns several Howard County restaurants, including Iron Bridge and Cured. He adheres to Walt Disney’s principle: “Sometimes it’s fun to do the impossible.”

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