I am screeching around an airfield at what it feels like 80mph in a great big lorry, a 480 bhp Renault Magnum with a 55ft Supercar Transporter to be exact. I am high up in the driver’s cab, sitting behind a massive wheel. The accelerator is hard to reach (obviously designed for bigger “man feet”), plus it’s disconcertingly sensitive. My husband and kids are waving from the sidelines. And they look very, very small.
I am probably actually doing about 20mph, although it feels a lot faster. The instructor asks me to do a reversing manoeuvre, but after a wobbly attempt, I tell him it’s not worth his while trying to teach me – I can’t even reverse in a straight line in my car. So he gives up and lets me put my foot down. *That’s* more like it. Now, the truck and I are “at one”. Where’s the CB radio? 10-4, good buddy! There’s a bear at your back door!
I am here because I’ve been bought a lorry-driving session for my 49th birthday. It’s one of those experiences that you find two a penny on Groupon, along with gliding and hot-air ballooning, and I am loving it. Behind the God-knows-how-many tonnes of steel and rubber, I feel powerful, confident and ready to take on the world. I press my foot down and the engine roars.
I’ve always, always wanted to drive a truck. It’s been on my bucket list for ever and now I can cross it off and put a big, fat, satisfying tick next to it. But, while my afternoon as a trucker has been memorable and fun, it has also made me realise that maybe I have got my list all wrong. With the exception of lorry driving, I have, in fact, done very few of the things on it, mainly because the rest are too huge and grand and pie in the sky they're almost impossible to try. And, surely, the whole point of doing bucket-list stuff is the fun and the sense of accomplishment when you do it? There’s no point in collecting wishes like trophies and putting them in a glass cabinet, which you never ever get out and use.
So, maybe I should park the idea of a three-week tour of India's Golden Triangle I have talked about for at least 10 years. Sure, one day I might get round to it but, if I am realistic with myself, very likely not until I am much older, the kids have left home – and only if I can afford it and can get time off (since, being pension-less, no doubt I’ll be working past retirement age). Ditto with a trip on the Orient Express and a camel trek to the pyramids.
So, henceforth, I have decided to empty my bucket and fill it with things that are just within my reach, which I will try to tick off one every six months or so.
My list includes:
- Camping in a yurt
- Going paintballing (my kids have done it, but not me. Don’t judge, I just want to have a go)
- Learning to surf
- Being hypnotised
- Driving down the dunes in a beach buggy
No doubt, over time, most of these things will be replaced and overtaken by other random whims, and, most likely, I will never get to the bottom of the list. But that doesn’t matter – in my opinion, whims are almost as good as solid plans; they keep your list fresh and moving – so I’ve vowed to keep on having, and doing, them until I shuffle off this mortal coil. Because, essentially, that’s the whole point – we should spend less time wishing and more time *doing*. Life should be about experiences, any experiences – whether fun, random, brave or off the wall. And, yes, some could even involve driving lorries.