LinkedIn is a great tool for starting to build great business relationships, networking, and many other things that we each value in our professions. Not long ago I watched a movie called “The Bucket List”. It got me thinking about something not many professionals think about these days. And, honestly, please allow me to indulge myself to be a bit dramatic here, as I will try to convey my deepest feelings about my life’s past, present, and how I see it in the future, not too far, and yet, not too vital, but, eternal sleep.
We are so focused on our professions, advancing our careers. We focus, mostly, on our needs, and making sure that our lives are well lived. However, we fail to think about this: what if the lives we live are not worth it. We never think about whether the lives we live will bring the value to this society, our own community, and to the entire world. We never think whether, after we pass away, the memories of our lives will be well kept and brought to life again. As Cicero said: “The life given us by nature is short, but the memory of a life well spent is eternal”. So, let me bring bad news to you, besides the ones you are already dealing with, you will make your own bucket list at some point of your life and then look at it and say “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That” (//youtu.be/waEC-8GFTP4).
I have a black tumor… should I be worried? What do I do now? Well, I should do something strange, maybe, stupid and something cool…
I have always thought to myself: a life to be lived is a life to be lived well. But sometimes my life is much more complicated than it should be, and certain moments of my life are interrupted unexpectedly, which does not allow me even to imagine how to live my future life. Especially, when the life I thought I could live is darkened by a black tumor and all sorts of questions need to be addressed about it. Honestly, what would I do if I had incurable cancer or a tumor and had only a few years to live? Well, I think, I would do something strange, stupid, and cool. So, here is how I would see my life, if I had only a few years to live:
- Everyone is talking a lot about politics and religion. I would definitely do something about politics and religion, because all of that discussion causes confusion and division between people, nations, and the whole world. I do not propose to get rid of the long history of politics or religions but would definitely try to change how people view politics and religion.
- Today, many people suffer from drug and alcohol abuse. I will solve one big health problem related to drug and alcohol abuse, so millions could benefit from my solution.
- I hate to be stuck in traffic for any amount of time. Who actually loves it? Well, I will have to solve the world’s unsolvable traffic problems by finding new ways of getting from point A to point B.
- I was fortunate enough in my life to experience life at its best. I think that if I shared my experiences with another Ukrainian by sponsoring a poor little genius to come to the United States and get a quality education, it would be rewarding for me to see that happy face that has not had a grateful smile for years before.
- Throughout my life, I have been told that I look like a gymnast. In fact, as a kid, I was always interested in gymnastics. I even trained myself in gymnastics by stretching, jumping, flexing, and so on, so I could be a gymnast one day. Unfortunately, due to limited resources and my orphan background, with no support from my foster family, I was not able to get any professional gymnastics training. But I wanted it so badly. I still do. But I am now too old to do any gymnastics training. So, the best that I could do is to observe the joy from a Ukrainian young gymnast succeeding in his/her career and even take that gymnast to the Olympic Games. What would be even more rewarding for me would be seeing my Ukrainian gymnast winning Olympic medals.
- I hear about natural disasters more often in recent years. What if I found a solution to reduce natural disasters around the world? Well, if all I had to do was to energize my inner genius to find a solution to the natural disaster problem, I would gladly do that. It hurts me each time I hear a story about people’s and animals’ sufferings from these natural disasters.
- I’m not sure, either for good or bad, but I would change how our mail gets delivered, so packages, consumables, delivery times, and other items would be issue free.
- Next is something I have always wanted to do: when resources would allow me, I would go to Ukraine and buy modern technology, toys, study materials, and many other useful resources for children in the orphanage where I grew up in my little town, Chernivtsi, close to Fastivska street.
- Through my life I have learned how to say “Thank you!” a lot, especially to those who helped me in every step of my life. I would definitely spare some time to pay individual visits to people who in one way or the other inspired, motivated, provided help and strength to keep me moving forward regardless of my limited resources that I had while growing up.
- Through my life, I found that certain things in this world inspire me to write poems, whether in Russian, Ukrainian, or English, to sing along with a song while walking in a park, slowly kicking and messing around the leaves on the ground, or doing good after a wonderfully spent time by the river or in the mountains. So, it would naturally make sense for me at the end of my life to go to the seven most beautiful corners of the world to experience life as it was given by nature in its purity, in hopes of achieving peace of mind, a calm heart, or, as some call it, karma.
- Back in 2008, I was inspired by a movie called “Becoming Jane” to start writing my own story on how I came all the way from Chernivtsi, Ukraine to the United States to start living an American life. So, I started writing a lot of it by hand in my little notebook. Those writings have been transferred recently into print. I am currently working on getting my book published. I do hope that it would become an eye opener, not only for those in Ukraine or in Russia, but also for readers in the United States. Some stories are really worth telling. And, I feel strongly that mine is worth telling too. I do hope to complete it in time so, after I know I had only a few years to live, I would write another book about life: how it was and how I see it near the end. I would translate it into Russian so it could inspire others to live and not be afraid of the circumstances that sometimes seem to drag people down, but in reality, they make them stronger and lift them up to heights unimagined.
- We are all afraid, including me, that something serious could happen, for example, some country drops a very powerful bomb on another country, or a virus decimates an entire nation , or even a meteorite hits the Earth and destroys everything around us. I would definitely have to find the best solution to save the world from becoming desolate in the future. I think my limited mind could imagine the unimaginable to find this solution.
- I love to read poems. I am inspired by them. I even write them. I recently found my old book dated back to 1989 with some poems written in Russian and Ukrainian. I have always been writing them to tell my story. Most of my poems were dedicated to my life without my true loving mom. Only recently I started writing my poems in English about beautiful things around me that I appreciate the most. And in my poems, I express my gratitude for those things. So, by the end of my life, I would write a poem about something beautiful too, with as many verses in it as my age. This poem would look into my past and talk about my childhood, my loving parents I so longed to have, the times of beauty I saw in Ukraine and the United States, and then tell the story of my life, and how I would have imagined to live if only I could live it again after my passing.
- I am not a saint, but throughout my life I have met a few. They were truthful with themselves and others. They inspired me to be true to myself and others too. However, I have not lived without a sin and have my own dark moments that I am not proud of. By the end of my life, I would reveal my dirty little secrets to the world, especially to those I have lied to or cheated. I’m not sure why I would do that, except to clear my conscience. I would hope that what I say or write would inspire others not to have any secrets from their closest ones.
- Back in 1999, I was inspired to start writing in my journal by wonderful Mormon missionaries who knocked on my door and opened my eyes to see the whole world in a different way. I have captured a lot of good and bad moments in my journals that I kept writing in during my mission in London, England, after my mission in Ukraine, and continued writing in here in the US. I would have to review all of my memories that were captured in early pictures before journals, read through all my journals, speeches that I have ever given, all my poems that I have written, and go through every meaningful life discussion that I had, so they could make me laugh and cry for the last time before I die.
- If personal resources allow, and by that time I am hopefully very fortunate with money, I would ensure that people who are less fortunate than I am, and also those that I am very close to, are very well taken care of. Today, it pains me to see so many suffer without any government or loved one’s support. I know how it feels to be in their shoes and I would not want them to wear those shoes if I am able to help them.
- I love TED talks. They inspire many and inspire me the most. I would have to give a speech on TEDx about something that is so wonderful, so I could see the tears on the faces of the audience, their smiles, or imagine their inner emotions, while I am speaking. I would apply everything I have learned through my studies, church, observations, and life.
- Adrenalin feels exciting. I remember when I jumped from a 30-feet pool stand into a pool of water. Bugs rushed through my body while spending a few seconds in the air before slamming the water. In fact, it felt so good that I went back to jump for a second and third time. It was fun. I would definitely have to jump out ofa plane with a parachute, so I can write about it in my last book. Nothing can express itself on paper so clearly as the experience itself.
- Recently I have listened to the History of Eastern Europe provided by Great Courses. I actually love the courses that they provide on Audible by Amazon. Thanks to Audible, I have been able to listen to a lot of wonderful courses by Great Courses, including ones on writing a creative non-fiction story, on the greatest questions of philosophy, about religions, about argumentation, and others. Through this History of Eastern Europe, I briefly learned about how the Mongolian nation (or as they were called then, Tartars) disappeared. Now, my curiosity does not stop there and I must learn about 20 new cultures in detail, and why they survived or died. Who knows, maybe before I die I would be able to prevent the death of one single nation that is on the verge of distruction.
- I have been in many places in Ukraine, Russia, some European countries, and in the US, specifically in New York, Atlanta, and lots of other cities. Something common among these places I visited was their dirty streets and very large dirty districts. I’ve seen even the dirtiest places that exist on TV. But something I would have to do is to actually walk on the dirtiest and wildest streets around the world to see whether I could provide a solution on how to clean up the mess.
- We have a saying in Ukraine, “Rozumniy v goru ne pide, rozumniy goru obiyde” meaning, a smart one will not go over the mountain but go around it. I would move a mountain to get where I need to be. Just kidding. But I would find ways to overcome mountainous obstacles in the most efficient and fastest way, to open new opportunities for travel.
- I have been told and thought for a long time about my purpose in life. But this is one of many questions that people ask themselves regularly. Some of those questions can be answered, if they read philosophy, scientific or religious books, but some cannot be answered at all. I would feel obligated to answer the biggest questions to myself from my own perspective that I have asked myself throughout my life…at least, many of them. I would answer questions of why I can’t do, and why wouldn’t I do certain things, and I would focus on what and why I do and whether there is enough time left to do other things.
- I have always been amazed by smart people, their intelligence, and their lives. I would seek out the opportunities to meet the Einsteins of today. This would at least satisfy my need to know whether I should become an Einstein of today.
- Speaking of being an Einstein, I would find a way to break one law of physics to open new windows to plentiful opportunities. I understand that some who believed in Newton’s laws came to believe in Einstein’s theory later, setting aside Newton’s deterministic laws. And who said, that some laws could not be broken?
- Each country has its own anthem and each anthem has a story associated with it. Well, I would write my own music piece for one of my poems to sing out loud everywhere it could inspire or motivate people to move forward without any hesitation and look back only to reflect on the past and not to be stuck in it.
- My poems, books, music, and life would make me create a documentary film about a very important topic to help the world understand and feel inspired as I have been.
- I have done so many studies and degrees, so far four of them, and my high school diploma, all of which motivates me to get the highest degree in my life. I would have to get my Ph.D., just so I can be remembered as Dr. Kirkpatrick (and learn wonderful new, difficult things).
- Watching Oscar awards and all of that red carpet interaction between the stars makes me want to walk on the red carpet before I die just for the heck of it.
- I want to be on Oprah, Ellen, or other inspirational TV shows, because I have always wanted to. This is something I must do, not just because I am dying but just because I have a simple story to tell and so many people to inspire.
- If I could extend my life, I would discover how to do it, so I can accomplish all of the above without sacrificing any of it.
- The final thing I would do before I die is to go to Mars and die there so I can be the first person to fly, die, and be buried on Mars.
So, what about my black tumor? Do I have it? Maybe… Did I have it? Yes… How did I find out? Well, here’s that story…
When I was 18_years old, I had a couple of big bumps on the back of my head. Each year when I visited my doctor, I had not paid close attention to them and had always forgotten to ask my doctor about them. I did not know whether I should ask, because they did not bother me and I just lived. However, after a couple of my friends saw them and some of my close friends noticed them, they urged me to ask my doctor about them. Once again, when the time to visit my doctor came, I forgot to ask him about my bumps. Then, in January of 2016, I went to my doctor and I remembered to ask him about my bumps. He said that they were not anything serious that I should be worried about. They are something he called “Sebaceous gland cysts on the back of my head. Benign.” That is an accumulation of liquids in a little sack that happened over the years. Basically, when I sweat, the liquid accumulates in my head and creates a hard fiber bump. I was happy to hear the good news, that they were not too serious that I should be worried about and that he could remove that accumulated fiber from my head.
The time finally came when I had in-office surgery. A couple of the medical students from the University of Utah were present to witness the surgery. Actually, the doctor told me that because it was not serious, he would have let a surgical student remove them. But after numbing my head and making an incision, he realized that it was something much bigger. It was actually, as he called it, a “black tumor”. Basically, it was a dead tumor that had grown over the years and just stayed in my head. This mini-surgery was a little bit harder than he expected and took much longer than he expected. But with the help of his students, with all six hands all over my head, my surgery soon was over and the black tumor was removed. The stitches were applied and I went home.
When my doctor told me that I had a tumor, I immediately associated it with the tumor that I knew a couple of my close friends had. One friend even passed away because of it. I was not ready to die. I knew that I should not worry about it, because I was told so. I trusted completely that my doctor knew what he was saying and continue to live my life with this trust.. But who knows, maybe something else serious is growing within. I do not know. But for certain I know thatI want to live long enough to go through my “bucket list” and try to do the doable things one step at a time until I am finished with them.
Some of us take life for granted. I did and continue to take my life for granted at times. But often I do ask myself, “Can I imagine a life to be lived and then live it?” And my answer is “Yes”. Step by step, always looking forward and at times reflecting on my past, I can continue to live and be grateful for the moments lived and the moments I am living right now. Memories and circumstances today shape me to be better tomorrow, so I can live the life that I imagined in the past to be lived in the future.